This week I read John Lanchester’s new novel Capital, about life in London during the great financial collapse of 2008.

I thought it was a great read, though not because of its great pacing or high drama or characters you’re cheering for. It’s more like an Impressionist crowd painting, a set of brilliantly-rendered scenes and personalities and moments, not a story that drives to a decisive conclusion. About 200 pages into it, I started thinking, This is great, but with all this buildup, it had better end with Queen Elizabeth on a velociraptor, on top of Big Ben, striking down zombies with nunchuks.

Not to spoil it, but no Queen Elizabeth, no zombies, no velociraptor. (Though one of the characters does like dinosaurs.)

Still, if you want a book that paints a picture of one of the world’s great cities sans velociraptors– and especially if you’ve spent time there, and perhaps intersected very peripherally with the sorts of characters that populate the book– Capital is terrific.