The Yard – Alex Grecian

This is a book for a changing time. It is a book where science is used but not counted. It is a book where there is fear in the streets. It is a book where the police are looked at with disdain and not trusted. It is a book where the future of catching the criminal is changing.

It is the late 1880s, Jack the Ripper has disappeared from the streets of London, but that does not mean murder’s have ceased. The people of London are wary of any murder and the police know that because Jack gave them the slip they need to always catch criminals. So when a body is found in a trunk at a railway station, panic could well ensue again. But this time the body is that of a policeman. Now with one of their own dead, it is even more important to catch the murderer.

Enter a new detective to the area, Inspector Walter Day who is heading up the inquiry and winning over the other detectives on the newly formed Murder Squad. Can he restore faith in the public, win over his colleagues and more importantly the faith in himself that he is a worthy detective? Not new to the area, but new to the police is Dr Bernard Kingsley, his knowledge of forensics  and what they can do to make sure the murderer is caught brings an angle to the book where you perhaps appreciate how much science and policing has come forward in the intervening years of when this book was set and when we as readers are reading it.

Interestingly this is not a natural formulaic whodunnit – we know who the killer is from very early on. It is a book about how they catch the killer, if they do at all.  In fact the book is split into sections where we see everything from the killers perspective as well as the detective and constables on the force. Even to the point of going back and finding out about the main characters and how they arrived to where they were now. On the streets of London, surviving in the only way they knew how. Whether that be by killing or protecting the innocent.  There are a few other stories along the way involving the Constables and I admit it became a bit confusing for me to grasp, but perseverance with the novel meant that all ends were suitably tied up.

This is a début novel from an American author and I admire his tenacity to set it in a city that he can only have read about. The publisher has used the selling point of him having never visited the city before writing about it.  It has some areas of improvement and flaws that need to be addressed in future novels – it threw me calling one of the Constable’s Hammersmith because I kept reading the place as supposed to the person at this point and the village that Hammersmith hailed from was called Collier – a mining village in Wales. I did not feel I was right into Victorian London enough, it kind of skirted on the outskirts of it. The science elements though were much more detailed and graphic where perhaps the research was a bit more thorough.  A book where you did not feel you learnt anything. Many have commented on the use of the language and how it is perhaps a bit too modern for the setting of the book. I had not noticed this until I read other reviews, for me I was too caught up with how they were going to catch the killer. I did want to know what happened and that is why I kept me reading.

A promising book, which could have been a bit shorter and worked more effectively with a greater impact to the reader.

Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

It took me a long while to get round to reading this, I have had it on my shelf for rather longer than I anticipated.   However, I am trying to tidy up my piles of books, so knew I needed to get on and read it. 

It was good in parts, but as I say in my review there were other parts where the author did not hit the mark. Since finishing the book, I have read about Alex Grecian and The Yard. Grecian has previously published graphic novels, this book therefore is a very large step away from that. I was glad to hear that he used real life characters despite taking them out of their actual time period by a few years here and there. It would have been nice if the book actually at the end mentioned these real life characters and their actual story – with a nod to the work actually being fiction. More can be found out on the q and a part of Grecian’s website. It makes for rather interesting reading. 

I acknowledge in the review that I did not pick up on the language, I wonder why? It has got me thinking now.

There is to be a second book by Alex Grecian called The Black Country featuring some of the detectives from this novel, but I am not sure if I will be picking it up to read, especially if it is as long and not quite succinct enough in its idea.


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