Ben Aaronovitch

You put a spell on the dog,” I said as we left the house. “Just a small one,” said Nightingale. “So magic is real,” I said. “Which makes you a…what?” “A wizard.” “Like Harry Potter?” Nightingale sighed. “No,” he said. “Not like Harry Potter.” “In what way?” “I’m not a fictional character,” said Nightingale.

Being a seasoned Londoner, Martin gave the body the “London once-over” – a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport – like BASE jumping or crocodile wrestling.

If you ask any police officer what the worst part of the job is, they will always say breaking bad news to relatives, but this is not the truth. The worst part is staying in the room after you’ve broken the news, so that you’re forced to be there when someone’s life disintegrates around them. Some people say it doesn’t bother them – such people are not to be trusted.

If you just warn people, they often simply ignore you. But if you ask them a question, then they have to think about it. And once they start to think about the consequences, they almost always calm down. Unless they’re drunk, of course. Or stoned. Or aged between fourteen and twenty-one. Or Glaswegian.

What frustrated me was the thought that with three thousand years of history someone in China, some monk in a monastery halfway up a mountain, must have developed a magic kata, a physical expression of formae. Or at least have got close enough to explain all those legendary swordsmen and their inexplicable desire to roost on the tops of bamboo trees.

The general public have a warped view of the speed at which an investigation proceeds. They like to imagine tense conversations going on behind the venetian blinds and unshaven, but ruggedly handsome, detectives working themselves with single-minded devotion into the bottle and marital breakdown. The truth is that at the end of the day, unless you’ve generated some sort of lead, you go home and get on with the important things in life – like drinking and sleeping, and if you’re lucky, a relationship with the gender and sexual orientation of your choice.