The October Man
June 11, 2019 8:32 PM - by Ben Aaronovitch - Subscribe

Trier: famous for wine, Romans and being Germany’s oldest city. When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. Fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything. Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork. With the help of frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he’s quick to link the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men – and to realise they may have accidentally reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century.
posted by dinty_moore (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Darn, no kindle version yet!
posted by sixswitch at 11:00 PM on June 11

oops, I was supposed to post this next week, when the book was to be released, except for all of the places that got the book early. My guess is it'll at least be out for Canadian Amazon on Friday? I'm not even sure what's dictating the release date - some complex algorithm of country, publisher, distribution partner, and format, maybe.

Other weird thing - subterranean press doesn't seem to have a distribution deal with google books (US), but the book is available for .epub on kobo, B&N, and Amazon in the US. Small press stuff gets weird when it comes to distribution and release, but I'm also wondering what the hell google books is trying to put in their distribution agreements.

I'll put the more spoilery stuff in a different comment, but it was interesting how different Tobi's voice was from Peter's - not only personality-wise, but in terms of word choice and sentence structure. I wouldn't want to have this be the main voice in the series, but I got what I wanted out of the novella - a different perspective on this world.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:18 AM on June 12

The audiobook has been available on Audible since the beginning of June. It was a little strange to have a narrator who wasn't Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, but I think it was the right call to go with someone new since Kobna is so indelibly Peter. Sam Peter Jackson as narrator made for a nice change, and I liked his German accent .

I was particularly delighted by every time Tobi thought "Peter Grant wouldn't do this" or "Peter Grant would..." because Peter has no idea who this guy is, and yet, Tobi knows enough about Peter's methodical approach to magic to think about what Peter would and wouldn't do.
posted by yasaman at 11:17 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I really want to know where he gets his gossip from. There must be reports, but you know somebody is talking over a few glasses of beer, too.
posted by PussKillian at 1:22 PM on June 12

Yeah, I really want to know where he gets his gossip from. There must be reports, but you know somebody is talking over a few glasses of beer, too.

It's also obvious that there's two different sources of information, and they're not talking to each other. Kelly's reaction to Tobi asking how Police/River interactions are handled in England was hilarious, but also kind of telling - the Germans know about Peter's work and the Folly, but not about his home life.

Also, I enjoyed the sheer amount of salt about Nightingale breaking the agreement, considering how likely it is that he has no idea how many people he's pissed off. Eventually this is all going to come out and it's going to be great (France is doing something too? Russia is definitely doing something). I'm just imagining Peter's reaction when he finds out the Germans have an entire research department while he gets a teenaged cousin.

Also, apparently Abigail is terrifying! Good job, Abigail.

I enjoyed Vanessa and Kelly as characters - Vanessa is, in a lot of ways, the Peter analogue for the book, and Kelly's 'I've got too much shit on my plate to even care, what with my mother being my daughter now' created an interesting dynamic with the police.

I'm glad that they didn't do the footnotes the way they had in The Furthest Station.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:17 AM on June 13

I definitely liked Tobi and Vanessa, and I agree the tone was different enough that it didn’t feel like “Peter mit ein Cherman accent,” and, for the audiobook, I was really glad that had someone other than Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (although I love his reading). But...

1. There was way too much plot for the story length. I was regularly confused by what was going on, and it wrapped up too quickly.

2. Too much repetition. Rivers? Check. Revenants? Check. Long discussion of vestigia? Check. Humorous asides about police bureaucracy? Check. And so on.

3. I don’t need rape as a plot point unless it’s super-necessary.

4. I wish the wine-making had been more central to the plot.

5. Hey, there’s a wacky pathologist!

Mostly, I think this needed to be a novel, with more space to build the German parts of the world.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:50 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]

Rereading that, I sound more negative than I actually am. My biggest complaint is that establishing a whole new setting and cast needs more space than it was given. Even Tobi and Vanessa aren’t super fleshed out. I did like the way the references to German history were very off-hand, because they’d be recognized by other Germans. No “Well, Otto, as any German child knows, the Elector of Saxony was very irate in 1635, and....”
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:48 AM on June 15

Well that was thoroughly enjoyable. But I am perhaps having a stupid- why is it called October Man? Because it takes place during October? Is Tobias the October Man? Or the first victim?
posted by Coaticass at 5:25 AM on June 16

Apparently it does take place in October, but I assumed it had something to do with the movie (I have never seen the movie, have no idea if it has anything to do with wine or Germany, and only know it's a film noir).
posted by dinty_moore at 6:39 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]

Aha! Did not know it was a film.. on googling the film noir plot...the reference makes sense now. The October Man (1947 film noir).
posted by Coaticass at 6:57 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]

And the whole thing is on YouTube.
posted by Coaticass at 7:06 AM on June 16

I'm halfway done listening to this, (so not reading any comments, yet) and was worried about missing Kobna's narration, but Sam Peter Jackson is doing a great job.
posted by soelo at 7:54 AM on June 25

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