I love a good mystery, and I’m also very interested in Victorian London, which meant when an advanced reading copy of the upcoming novel The Yard by Alex Grecian came into Indigo Books my manager made sure I got my hands on it. After basically reading it nonstop the biggest problem is it will be at least until June before the rest of you can read it.
The Yard takes place shortly after Jack the Ripper went through his spree in Whitechapel, and I was very grateful that the notorious man didn’t make a cameo appearance in the novel, with the exception of a dream or two. The London presented by Grecian has not been whitewashed, it is a dark, gritty and horribly inhospitable place. Children are kidnapped forced into workshops or up chimneys and in just the month before the book takes place at least 96 men with their throats slit were fished out of the Thames. Grecian certainly doesn’t try to portray the city through an inaccurate nostalgic lens.
Our main characters are the boys from The Murder Squad, the twelve detectives charged by Scotland Yard to handle every murder case that happens within London. These men are given strong and vivid characters and each one of the detectives is clearly and compellingly distinct from the others. The novel debuts with the discovery that one of their fellow detectives has been murdered, and if that wasn’t enough for them another serial killer has begun a reign of terror in the city. The novel also shows us the birth of forensics to solve crime with Dr. Kingsley the Yard’s first Forensic Pathologist.
The actual mysteries in the book are not the main focus, we regularly follow the villain’s perspective, so we know who the guilty parties are well before the end of the book. . The book’s real strength is in the polices interactions with each and the stresses of trying to rebuild the reputation of The Yard after the Ripper fiasco.
The Murder Squad is based an actual and similarly understaffed division of Scotland Yard that was created to try to curtail the bad press that Jack the Ripper caused.
This is a great work by a debut novelist, and I can’t wait to read more books in this series.
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