The first time I read Rivers of London, I wasn’t entirely sold on it. The story itself was fine: it’s basically both urban fantasy and police procedural, which makes it feel so British it hurts. Unlike a lot of other urban fantasy, it really does feel centered on a particular location, and that location is very much London. There’s a lot of intriguing stuff in the background — Nightingale, the Folly, Isaac Newton’s system of magic, Molly, the genii loci… And there’s also a lot of female characters, and of course Peter Grant himself (the main character and narrator) is a person of colour, whose background plays strongly into how he interacts with London, while feeling entirely British.
The thing I wasn’t so keen on was Peter’s character: the way he referred to the female characters around him, evaluating their bodies and their prettiness. Fortunately, having read the later books and enjoyed them more, I was able to view Peter in the context of the rest of the series, including his genuine respect for the women in his life, his efforts not to be superficial, etc. It still has quite a “bloke-y” feel, but it also makes sense; knowing the character Lesley becomes throughout the series, I don’t feel as skeeved out by that ending and the potential for just trowelling on Peter’s guilt (manpain) about what happens to her.
For me, it falls together pretty well, and reading it a second time, I didn’t see the pacing problems that I found the first time either. Might have been a bit of a case of wrong book, wrong time — or it just really is improved by knowing how the later books go.