Characters / Rivers of London

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    The Folly 

Constable Peter Grant

A young police constable saved from a career in paperwork after being found looking for a ghost who witnessed a magical crime by the last wizard in London whom he apprentices to towards the end of the first book in the series.


  • Alcoholic Parent: Peter's dad is a serious and habitual heroin addict. He isn't a bad parent but just a bit ineffectual, although Peter's mother being an Apron Matron probably means she did all the parenting stuff anyway. As of the end of Moon Over Soho he's clean, and remarks that of all the drugs he quit, nicotine was the hardest.
  • The Apprentice: To Nightingale.
  • Britain Is Only London: Peter believes London is the only place worth being. Lampshaded in Moon Over Soho; Nightingale tells Peter that there's more to life than London, and Peter replies "People keep saying that, but I've never actually seen any proof".
  • Cool Car: Peter's Ford Focus ST, a/k/a "The Asbo." note  It finally meets its maker in The Hanging Tree, but is quickly replaced by a very nice Ferrari from the Faceless Man's garage, which Nightingale confiscated to "inspect it for magic".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mostly during the narration, but more often than not his thoughts slip through in his dialogue as well.
  • Desk Jockey: Peter was about to be assigned to a career with the Met's Desk Jockey unit before meeting Nightingale.
  • Destructive Savior: He's accused of being this, with much property destruction happening during his cases. Though, to be fair, he rarely is the one doing the destroying.
  • Guile Hero: Father Thames (and other demi-monde) has called him 'a cunning man' numerous times, and he's quite skilled at the type of Social Engineering practiced by the police.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Peter Grant has built up a near-total resistance to glamours, due to literally every supernatural creature he meets trying to magically compel him in some fashion or another.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Peter and Nightingale discover they're up against a black magician in book two, Peter points out that the term "black magician" is problematic, particularly since Peter is of African descent and is thus, in a sense, himself a black magician. Thereafter he uses variations on "ethically challenged magical practitioner" instead.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Peter makes a lot of Genre Savvy references to movies, Doctor Who, and various fictional wizards.
  • Science Hero: He approaches his magic studies like a science - which, in many ways, it is - and manages to discover new things even during his apprenticeship.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: He uses a lot of these terms. (Justified: North and East London argot has adopted a lot of them.)

DCI Thomas Nightingale

The last wizard in London, a DCI for the Met (London Police) heading a unit of one specializing in magical crimes. He becomes Peter's teacher during the first book.


  • Berserk Button: His school's name was Casterbrook. If you wish to clean the toilets for next few weeks, do go ahead and keep calling it Hogwarts.
    • On a more serious note, certain forms of abuse of magic, and - especially - teaching magic without any of the discipline and restraints that Casterbrook taught its pupils tend to send Nightingale into the kind of quiet fury that makes Peter profoundly glad it isn't directed at him.
  • Cool Old Guy: Considering the man is more than a century old, he's way cool.
  • The Dreaded: Among the demi-monde, who know what he's capable of.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Being a full wizard in this universe means having an in depth understanding of "Newtonian magic" which, as the name suggests, is a system of magic with natural laws which is studied using scientific principles in the hope of advancing understanding of magic and/or figuring out and stopping the latest string of magical crimes.
  • Gentleman Wizard: right down to the silver tipped cane.
  • Hidden Depths: Nightingale may look like an Officer and a Gentleman, but he once personally destroyed two Tiger tanks by himself.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Has been stuck as a DCI for decades although the covert nature of his duties, and the self-imposed stagnation of The Folly, have probably contributed heavily to this, but strictly speaking in organisational terms he should have been made a Detective Superintendent in the service re-structurings of the 1980s and 90s.
  • The Mentor: to Peter. Although he verges on Obsolete Mentor a couple of times, especially when it comes to modern police methods, and this is a particular bone of contention at the end of Soho when the issue of Inhumanable Alien Rights and due process through the courts, versus just killing sentient non-human possible criminals comes up.
  • Merlin Sickness: Nightingale was born in 1900, aged normally until the 1970s, and then for reasons that are still not clear began getting younger again. The effect is only on his biological age, however; his memory works normally.
  • Mistaken for Gay: The first time Peter sees Nightingale he thought he was being picked up.
  • Old Master: He's over 100 years old, and a master wizard, although he dislikes the term.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: If you can blow up two Tiger tanks, you're this.
  • Polyglot: We've seen him speaking Danish, and know for a fact that he reads Latin fluently. It's strongly implied he also reads Greek, Arabic, German and French.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Nightingale doesn't really get Peter's Harry Potter namedrops.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Not to stereotype levels, but the aspects are definitely there. Although he may be playing up the part.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • Renaissance Man: Which turned out to be a good thing when he became the last practising wizard in the UK. Being able to forge his own staff, for one...
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Even Lampshaded in The Hanging Tree. The most relaxed we've seen him dress is a polo shirt and blazer.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Though he conceals it much of the time, Nightingale evidently saw some extremely nasty things at Ettersberg, both in whatever ghastly research the Nazis' wizards were up to and in how his fellow Casterbrook alumni died.
  • The Stoic: He rarely shows signs of emotion, and never raises his voice.
  • Survivor Guilt: Nightingale is still haunted, even 60 odd years later, by his survivor guilt from WW2 and Ettersberg, the trip to the ruins of his old school (where they once taught wizardry) and the list of the fallen shows him to be still utterly broken by that last battle.

Dr. Abdul Haqq Walid

A world renowned gastroenterologist who also doubles as a cryptopathologist. He's a Scot from Oban who was raised a Presbyterian, but converted to Islam while studying medicine.


  • Admiring the Abomination: Most of the things he comes across are Nightmare Fuel, but he handles it all rather well and demonstrates a scientist's curiosity. Considering that he's been doing it for decades, his attitude is not all that strange.
  • Collector of the Strange: Maybe not that strange given his role in the Folly, but Peter repeatedly claims he has a selection of brains suffering from hyperthaumaturgical degradation, and he's always eager for samples.
  • Masquerade: He handles the stranger autopsies that go on in London as well as handling medical care for the Folly's residents.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: He's very enthusiastic about new magical phenomena, and will frequently ask for samples.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: He's able to sense vestigia. In fact his sensing of jazz music on Cyrus Wilkinson's body in the second book is what draws Peter into the case in the first place.
  • Technobabble: He's come up with a few medical terms for things have to do with magic, including hyperthaumaturgical degradation. He's also adept at translating both modern terminology and Peter's theories for Nightingale, so Peter occasionally has him explain his ideas for him.

Toby the Dog

A mongrel terrier who belonged to the late William Skirmish and now resides in the Folly.


  • Big Eater: He's always on the prowl for a meal. Something Peter and Nightingale take advantage of when faced with some of Molly's cooking.
  • Canine Companion
  • Dog Stereotype: Being a terrier, he's The Napoleon and being a mongrel he's street smart enough to make it back to the Folly by himself.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Molly is normally his favorite because she feeds him, but when Horror Hunger overtakes her during the haemomancy rite, Toby senses she's lost control and rushes to protect Peter.
  • Heroic Dog: Near the end of the first book, he manages to fend off Molly when she was about to do Peter in.
  • Mysterious Animal Senses: He's able to sense the supernatural and reacts by barking.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Sausages.
  • Urine Trouble: In Body Work, Toby urinates on both the possessed cars' crushed remains, as if he's taunting the evil entity his human friends just bested.


The Folly's mysterious maid and cook.


  • The Fair Folk: Peter's encounter with the Faerie Queen in Foxglove Summer leads him to believe that she and Molly are the same variety of fae.
  • Hidden Depths: Book one implies that Molly and Beverly can communicate, although they don't do so in front of Peter. Later books hint that Molly has been going online in Peter's tech-cave when he's not around, which would be news to Peter who hadn't even realized she could type.
    • By Foxglove Summer, it's revealed that she was using Twitter to trade recipes.
  • House Fey
  • Humanoid Abomination: Possibly. She creeps Peter out. Other supernatural beings and Toby are wary of her upon meeting her for the first time. Not even Nightingale seems to know WHAT she is. To put that in perspective, even the Night Witch—who survived the Nazis and went toe-to-toe with Nightingale—is cautious of her. Given what happened to Peter at the end of the first book, their caution might be justified. Peter believes that there's some relation between her and the Pale Lady
  • Lethal Chef: She favors making dishes popular a century ago. This suits Nightingale, but sometimes horrifies Peter. As of Moon Over Soho, she's been experimenting with new recipes leading to an attempt at Eggs Benedict that even Toby wouldn't eat. As of the fourth book, she's getting better thanks to the gift of a modern cookbook.
    • One of the vignettes in Body Work implies that Molly has begun privately trading recipes online while Peter's tech-cave is unoccupied.
  • Meido: Of the Edwardian variety.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: There's a reason that she's usually silent and covers her mouth when she laughs. She also has an Overly Long Tongue.
  • Older Than They Look: Looks like a young woman, but she's been at the Folly since she was a little girl which was around 1911.
  • The Speechless / The Voiceless: It's unclear which trope applies; Peter's never heard her speak, but he has heard her shriek in distress and presumably laugh, so she's at least capable of that much.

Constable Lesley May

Peter's friend and fellow constable. After the end of book one she suffers an accident that destroys her face. The end of the second book reveals that she can do magic. She joins the Folly sometime before the third book begins. She is also a Walking Spoiler.


Frank Caffrey

A Fire Investigation Officer and a reservist for the 4th Battalion, Parachute Regiment who leads the Folly's secret Armed Response Unit.


  • Badass Normal: He's a normal - albeit well trained and well armed - man who has to provide backup when a wizard needs a bit of help.
  • Nerves of Steel: His reaction to Peter accidentally finding a crate of fragmentation grenades that had been sitting in a puddle in the Folly's weapons locker since 1946 was his voice went up two octaves while telling Peter to back away slowly.
  • Old Soldier
  • Sergeant Rock
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Granted he's a veteran and has probably been dealing with the supernatural for a while, but he doesn't show any fear despite the threat of a nest of vampires, a murderous ghost, a rogue magician, a chimera, and a trio of succubi.
  • Suddenly Significant Rule: When they find Skygarden's basement rooms padlocked, Peter and Leslie realize that Frank can legally order the locks cut off because it's a breach of fire safety codes. Subverted when Zach shows up and can pick the locks faster than that.

Professor Harold Postmartin

The Folly's archivist. He's based out of the Bodleian Library of Oxford University.


    The Rivers 

Mama Thames

A Nigerian nurse-in-training who attempted suicide and ended up becoming the goddess of the Thames.


Father Thames

The god of the Thames since the Romans were in Britain. He abandoned London during the Great Stink and hasn't returned.


Tyburn "Lady Ty" McAllister-Thames

The goddess of the Tyburn and Mama Thames's eldest daughter. She's dissatisfied with the current state of the supernatural community and wants to replace it with something more organized, including a government branch that handles supernatural matters.


  • Big Sister Instinct: As the oldest sister of the Thames daughters, which makes it personally annoying to her how none of the others want to rely on her.
  • Charm Person: She's strong enough that she makes Peter buy flowers, get on a train, and come see her despite his never having met her before and the fact that he was nowhere near her at the time.
  • Compelling Voice: She tries to use it on Peter to make him drink some water and end up under her complete control. It almost works.
  • The Dragon: To her mother.
  • Happily Married: To her husband George. Unlike Oxley, she isn't able to grant her husband the same immortality she has.
  • Hypocrite: She's not subtle about her contempt for the current state of the Folly being held together by old agreements and the Old Boy Network, but she will happily use her own influence and political power to try and control things, including locking Peter out of the Folly until he bribes her mother.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Peter actually agrees with her about the Folly being woefully insufficient for handling London's magical community, and badly needs to be updated. He just doesn't trust her to be the one running things.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tyburn is ruthless, cunning and merciless to those who oppose her and seem to find glee in humiliating Peter, but she's by no account an actual villain and loves her family (both her sisters/mother and husband/children).
  • Legacy Character: She is not the first spirit of the Tyburn, and Peter meets the ghost of the previous one in book three.
  • Making a Splash: Being the goddess of a river, she has control over water. The first time we see her in the book she uses it for the rather mundane task of filling a vase.
  • Mama Bear: Tyburn isn't prone to on-screen violence, but as The Hanging Tree shows, threaten her children, and you will be making the worst mistake of your life. Not coincidentally, unless you're the Faceless Man, and even then it was close, it will also be the last.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Oh, yes.
  • Nothing Personal: As she notes to Peter at the end of The Hanging Tree, she has nothing against him and Nightingale as people besides how they're continual headaches in her attempt to modernize all the 'arrangements'.
  • The Starscream: Mama Thames is quite happy with tradition and holding court out of her flat, Tyburn is...not. Lady Ty has ambitions to sweep away the Folly and all the systems of "arrangements" and get everything out in the open. She also quite likes prowling the corridors of power at Westminster and Whitehall. Nightingale has said that when the eventual clash between Tyburn and Mama Thames comes then it might be an idea to take a holiday somewhere very far away.
  • Woman Of Wealth And Taste

Oxley Thames

Father Thames's son and right hand man. He's said to be the wisest of Father Thames's sons and is the god of the Oxley Mill River/Abbey River.


Fleet Thames.

Goddess of the Fleet River. A woman in her mid-thirties who (unsurprisingly) is heavily involved in journalism and art.


  • Cool Aunt: To Tyburn's kids. Olivia McAllister-Thames felt comfortable enough about her to tell her she was a lesbian — something Tyburn (her mother) only learned years later.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Beverly mentions she takes in runaways and orphans and has a double-digit number of adoptive children, many of them magical.
  • One Degree of Separation: When first meeting her, Peter realizes she's the mother of one of his classmates in school.

Beverly Thames.

The spirit of the Beverly Brook. Peter's on and off love interest. Likes to drive Minis and act a lot more "street smart" than she really is.


  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: A mild example of this, as Peter notes in book one, in that her river flows through some pretty upper-middle class areas despite her acting all street and urban. This is reflected in her choice of car, which is the very middle class MINI.
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of book one.
  • Girl of the Week: Initially just one of these in book one, but fleshed out more later on.

Neckinger "Nicky" Thames.

Personification of the "lost" River Neckinger in South London.


     Members of the London Metropolitan Police Service (and other police services), not in the employ of The Folly 

DCI Alexander Seawoll

Head of the murder team and Stephanopoulos' boss. He's aware of the supernatural, but doesn't like it one bit, especially when it interferes with proper policing.


  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's not fond of Nightingale, but he's genuinely protective of Lesley and considers her to be one of the finest constables of her generation.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: He doesn't like the word 'magic' being used.
  • Oop North: Peter's description of him in book one: He was from Yorkshire, or somewhere like that, and like many Northerners with issues, he’d moved to London as a cheap alternative to psychotherapy.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's not above bending the rules or upholding the Masquerade but he's also one of the best there is at what he does.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: He does quite a bit of casual swearing.

DI Miriam Stephanopoulos

Seawoll's right hand, but also an accomplished detective in her own right.


  • Death Glare
  • Face of a Thug: Peter describes her as a squat, angry-faced middle-aged woman with lank brown hair who looked like she fought Rottweilers for a hobby, but she's a reasonable person who actually has a sense of humor.
  • Lesbian Cop
  • Number Two: To Seawoll.
  • Rank Up: Promoted from Detective Sergeant to Detective Inspector at some time between the second and third books.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She more or less takes Seawoll's place during the second book while he's recovering from the incident in the first book. She's less antagonistic about magic, but still wants all the cases to be solved with evidence that can actually be presented in court.

Constable Sahra Guleed

A junior member of Seawoll's team, who's worked with the Folly enough to have become the Murder Team's unofficial go-to officer on Falcon operations. Guleed immigrated from Somalia at a young age, has a knack for getting suspects to confess to her by appearing graciously sympathetic, and is an observant Muslim.

  • Badass Normal: Guleed has no magical ability whatsoever and has so far survived two run-ins with The Faceless Man and subdued another hostile wizard with a Glasgow Kiss.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: If Tyburn's snark is to be believed, Guleed's father worked for the Somali secret police before the civil war sent the family fleeing to Britain.
  • Nice Hat / Simple, yet Opulent: Wears a high-quality hijab, of which she has quite a collection.
  • Ninja: Guleed jokes about being a "Muslim ninja" when Peter first meets her during the raid on the Strip Club of Dr. Moreau.
  • Riches to Rags: Her family was wealthy when she was a child, until suddenly they weren't. She's deliberately vague as to how or why this happened.

Sergeant Jaget Kumar

A member of the British Transport Police as well as an urban explorer and spelunker.


  • Agent Mulder: When he finds out that magic is real, he acts with excitement rather than disbelief. Given that he keeps track of the strange things that happen in the Underground - including reports of ghosts - and the fact that he's actually an X-Files fan, his reaction isn't uprising.
  • Seeker Archetype: He's a spelunker and urban explorer in his spare time.

     Family, Friends, and Miscellaneous Spirits 

Richard 'Lord' Grant

Peter's father. He was a famous trumpet player in his time and on the verge of becoming a legend until heroin addiction ended that chance. It's hinted in the second book that because he was a victim of the jazz-vampire/succubus Simone that the addiction wasn't completely his fault.


  • Career Resurrection: An In-Universe example. He switched instruments and formed a band with some secondary characters from the second novel. As of the fourth, he's considering dental surgery so that he can play the trumpet again.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's not quite The Mentor, but he will hand out advice to his son. Being a rather famous jazz musician - at least to those who know jazz - also helps. In fact, his knowledge of jazz proves quite helpful in the second book.
  • Functional Addict: Heroin destroyed his teeth and thus his embouchure which meant he could no longer play the trumpet with the same amount of skill. He was receiving free clean heroin and safe paraphernalia thanks to a doctor who was his fan. As of the second book he's given up heroin.
  • Parents as People: He means well, and Peter does love him, but being a mostly under control heroin addict limits your parenting abilities.

Rose Mamusu Grant

Peter's Sierra Leonean mother.


  • Apron Matron
  • The Clan: While we don't yet know her family's name, Peter suspects his Mum is related to roughly half the population of Sierra Leone, and keeps in touch with each and every one of the ones she's still speaking to.
  • Education Mama: She wanted Peter to be something more than a police officer. She actually finds that his working with magic is a more acceptable career than being a constable and tells certain people that he's a witch smeller.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: She's a cleaning lady.
  • It's All About Me: Apparently common among African mothers. Peter had to fight her not to take his personal belongings when she decided someone else needed them more, and she's mentioned as regularly having arguments when someone else disagrees with her. Even Nightingale finds her a force to be reckoned with.
  • I Want Grandkids: In book six, she nags Peter about this, even offering to take care of any kids he and Beverly might have so they won't have to take time away from their own pursuits.
  • Lethal Chef: She's not a bad cook, but she loves her spices. Given the number of supernatural beings in the series, there's a chance that we might find out if her cooking is literally Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth.
  • No Name Given: Because the books are first person and Peter obviously calls her "Mum", her name never came up. When people pointed this out, Aaronovitch immediately had someone use it in the audio-only short story "A Rare Book of Cunning Device".
  • Out Grown Such Silly Superstitions: Given that the series takes place in what's more or less the real world, most people don't believe in the supernatural and those that do are seen as superstitious or ignorant. This led to a bit of initial Arbitrary Skepticism on Peter's part when his mother attacked Simone and called her a witch. Peter didn't believe that Simone was around when his parents first met i.e. before he was born. It turns out that his mother was right. Simone is an ageless being and has been feeding off of jazz musicians since World War II.
  • Parents as People: Less so than her husband, but she still expects Peter to do as she wants, even as an adult. According to Peter, African women have children so there's someone else to do the chores.
  • Stealing from the Till: Judging by some of the items in the Grants' flat, she's not above taking home a few "perks" from the offices she cleans, like paper towels or complimentary biscuits left out for the cubicle-staff.

Zachary Palmer

A young man Peter meets while investigating a murder in the third book. He proves to be more than he appears and introduces the Peter to London's supernatural underground.


  • Bad Liar
  • Big Eater: His appetite falls somewhere between comical and frightening. Despite eating so much, he's still described as skinny.
  • "Friends" Rent Control First seen living apparently rent-free in a small, maid-serviced mews house in the achingly hip and unbelievably expensive Notting Hill area. Apparently his presence is more or less legitimate, he just happened to befriend an American art student (and murder victim) with extremely rich and well-connected parents and became his housemate in return for introducing him to the Quiet People.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: To quote: My dad was a fairy, said Zach. And by that I don’t mean he dressed well and enjoyed musical theatre.
  • Hopeless Suitor: In love with Elizabeth Ten-Tons who was betrothed to someone else and in a secret romance with Zach's roommate.
  • Master of Unlocking: Zach can open locks in seconds without leaving a trace he's done so. He claims it's a "family talent", although whether it's a fae thing or not is unclear.
  • Motor Mouth
  • Walking the Earth: Albeit not in a heroic way and he seems to confine his wandering to London. He's a rough sleeper. Lesley theorizes that it may have something to do with him being fae.


A fae introduced in the third book.


  • Badass Longcoat: He wears a faded version of the red coat that gave British soldiers their nickname.
  • Cool Sword
  • The Fair Folk: Despite his name and despite being a fae, he's not the Oberon of legend.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Despite looking like a young man, he's old enough to have been a slave at some point during the era of the Atlantic slave trade.
  • Scars Are Forever: His back still bears the scars from his time as a slave.
  • War God: There's evidence - aside from the way he dresses - that he may be some sort of spirit of battle. He takes Nightingale's oath as a soldier rather seriously in the fourth book.


The Anthropomorphic Personification of the trees in the Sky Garden in book four.


  • Nature Spirit: Specifically a wood nymph from a London Plane Tree.

Abigail Kamara.

A teenage distant cousin of Peter's and a neighbor of his parents, who learned of Peter's interest in magic from Mrs. Grant. Her stubborn determination to snoop into ghosts and other supernatural phenomena led Peter to concoct an unofficial "cadet" branch of the Folly, purely to keep an eye on her.

  • Tagalong Kid: Abigail wants to be this, despite the dangers of probing the supernatural.

     The Villains 

Mr. Punch/Henry Pyke

The villain of the first book and recurring element in later books, Henry Pyke is a revenant: A powerful ghost of a murdered actor capable of sequestering humans and forcing them to act out scenes from Punch and Judy with fatal real-world effects.


  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Mr. Punch is a spirit of riot and rebellion. Peter guesses in The Hanging Tree that he may be the ghost of a powerful ancient spirit, like the first Tyburn.
  • Body Horror: Humans who get sequestered to play the role of Mr. Punch have their facial structures horribly distorted to resemble the puppet. Once the effect ends, the faces literally deflate and most victims die of blood loss almost immediately.
  • Demonic Possession: The modus operandi of the killing spree.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How Peter stops Mr. Punch in the first book.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Henry Pyke and Mr. Punch are actually two distinct entities. Pyke is what he seems to be — a revenge-driven ghost of a murdered 18th century actor — but Punch is something much older, more powerful and malicious.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: Revenants survive by 'eating' less powerful ghosts.
  • Obliviously Evil: The ghost of Henry Pyke turns out to be unaware that his theatre act is actually killing people.
  • Revenant Spirit: What Pyke turns out to be.
  • Revenge: Pyke's motivation. Having his murderer's play put up on a theatre turns out to have been the catalyst that starts the killing and two of the audience become the first victims.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: As a Classically Trained Extra, Pyke uses a lot of theatrical language and has a lot of trouble actually breaking the habit even when disguised as his latest victim.
  • The Bus Came Back: Peter keeps hearing Mr. Punch in his head well after the first book is over. By The Hanging Tree, this effect is powerful enough for Punch to talk to Peter directly.
  • Worthy Opponent: Pyke mentions that he thinks of Peter as the comedy element of the play — a bumbling Inspector Javert whose constant failures are there for laughs. Needless to say, Peter does not reciprocate.

The Faceless Man/ Martin Chorley

The ethically challenged magician introduced in the second book and the closest thing the series has to a Big Bad so far. He's the second man to hold the title. The first - Albert Woodville-Gentle - was likely his teacher.


  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Given his speculated background he's either an example of this or Screw the Rules, I Have Money!. His home also contains paintings of kings and queens of England, and his rant to Peter indicates he favours people of pure English descent like Lesley over descendents of immigrants like Peter.
  • Barrier Warrior: Protects himself with forcefields in his earlier appearances.
  • Big Bad: In several of the books.
  • Blow You Away: Uses a lot of wind magic.
  • The Chessmaster: He comes across as this. He works behind the scenes and has been planning things for a long time with very few people even knowing that he exists.
  • Collector of the Strange: Has at least one storage unit filled with occult books and artefacts that even The Folly doesn't have copies of. The supernatural pub The Chestnut Tree contains another one hidden in the basement.
  • Compelling Voice: He uses it to try and make Peter commit suicide in the second book.
  • Cool Mask: He's always wearing one. Peter describes him as looking like an "unusually tasteful Mexican wrestler". It's part of the face-obscuring spell he uses.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Is given to leaving smart-alecky "warnings" on his booby traps.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Owns an as-of-yet unknown number of shell companies and trusts that lets him fund his as-of-yet unknown agenda. Both Broken Homes and The Hanging Tree shows that he owns properties and companies all over London.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: At least part of his motivation in The Hanging Tree is revenge against those who provided the drugs that caused his daughter to suffer a fatal brain haemorrhage.
  • Evil Counterpart / Foil: To Nightingale. They're both wizards from the old gentry, with old-fashioned ideas, but they approach them much differently.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Very much so. He uses a lot of magic that Nightingale finds reprehensible. He's created supernatural beings and has others working for him as assassins/hired muscle.
  • The Faceless: It's in his name. It's actually a Glamour that stops people from seeing what he looks like.
  • Genre Blindness: Peter lampshades that for all the Faceless Man's chessmaster brilliance, deciding to turn up for a Rooftop Confrontation on a building you're planning to blow up is really stupid.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Exactly what his endgame is is unknown to everyone save himself.
  • Legacy Character: The second villain to use the name.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: He's a high class evil magician with an Oxford education and a taste for cravats.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: His rant at Peter in the end of The Hanging Tree has a lot of racist undertones.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: His favourite disposal method when he wants to be subtle.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What his actions in The Hanging Tree amount to. Murdering the drug dealer who sold his daughter's friends the drugs that killed her, trying to kill aforementioned friends and the criminal who helped his daughter steal some of his magical artefacts and as a result introduced her to the friends that got her killed.
  • Wicked Cultured: Is a fan of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

Varvara Sidorovna

Former Soviet "Night Witch" and Nightingale's fellow victim of Merlin Sickness. Previously in the employ of the first Faceless Man and probably responsible for his untimely death.


The Pale Lady:

The Faceless Man's Hit-Woman.


Reynard Fossman

A minor criminal who patterns his behavior on, and may be a fae manifestation of, the French folklore-figure Reynard the Fox. A nasty little thief, grifter and would-be statutory rapist, although not a killer so far as Peter knows.


  • Affably Evil: Charming, smooth-talking, and completely unashamed of his chickenhawk tendencies.
  • Animal Motif: Plays his "fox" role to the hilt.
  • Legacy Character: Apparently one of many demi-monde fae-types to play the part of Reynard the Fox.
  • Meaningful Name: "Fossman" roughly translates as "fox-man".
  • Shapeshifter: Possibly the case, as Peter sees his teeth visibly sharpen when Fossman is tussling with an enemy, and a rip in his shirt reveals a hairy chest. He might have spoken to Abigail in a true fox-form near the end of Book Three.
  • The Trickster: He certainly tries to be true to the "Reynard" archetype.