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London Falling    by Paul Cornell order for
London Falling
by Paul Cornell
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

London Falling by Paul Cornell (also the author of Doctor Who episodes and spin-off novels) is a well executed mix of urban fantasy, horror and police procedural. It's also the first in a series.

Protaganists are police officers DI James Quill, DS Tony Costain, DC Kev Sefton, and intelligence analyst Lisa Ross. They have been working for four years on Operation Goodfellow, collecting evidence against a remarkably successful mobster, Rob Toshack. Costain and Sefton have long been undercover close to Toshack. Lisa Ross is Toshack's niece - she seeks justice for her beloved father, and answers to what happened to her as a child. Costain leads the team but doesn't trust Sefton.

Lisa finds a link, going back to 1900, between deaths of soccer players who 'scored hat-tricks' against the West Ham Football Club, people who have had a fine spiral shape show up in their gardens, and an old woman named Mora Losley, soon dubbed The Witch of West Ham. All four team members develop the Sight after Quill touches 'a shaped pile of West Ham soil' at a house where small human skeletons are found in a cauldron ('kids cooked in a pot').

At first they think they have all lost their minds. But, after comparing notes, they get an inkling of what has happened to them, and share ideas of how to fight back against an entirely new dimension of criminal activity in London, powered by human sacrifice. While all this goes on, Quill's home life with his wife Sarah is also disintegrating. And before it's all over, each one of the foursome will have to face - and survive - their worst fear.

The episode concludes with a shocking twist and a race against time to save someone close to the investigators. When it's all over, they discover historical evidence of previous supernatural crime fighters and a fifth member joins their team. Though many of its British football references will be unfamiliar to North American readers, London Falling is a horrific and gripping read.

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