The Yard, A Review of Alex Grecian’s Novel

Hello dear Readers,

As you know, I do not post many books reviews on my blog, but I am hoping this book becomes the topic of many conversations. If you have read it I would love to hear about it, and if you have an opinion on the role of editors I would love to hear that too.

Poor Walter Day, he may be well over his head when it comes to his new job. It is the second day for the newly appointed detective, he is unsure if he is qualified to be a member of Scotland Yard’s “Murder Squad”, the public no longer respects the police and now one of their own has been found murdered.

This the emotional setting Alex Grecian sets up in his debut novel The Yard.  The year is 1889, Jack the Ripper’s killings have mysteriously ended, but for Scotland Yard new terror is setting in. Grisly murders are on the rise and it seems to those involved in the seedy side of life England is becoming more and more dangerous. The police are under staffed and over worked, and forensic science is it its infancy; crimes are hard to solve, even as the public demands answers.

Grecian plunges his readers into the heart of Victorian England, from its dirty streets, to poverty stricken inhabitants, he leaves no gritty detail out. All too often authors pick a place or time for their setting without doing much research. Grecian has done his homework, you cannot help but feel the grime and hopelessness of the era.

The characters Grecian introduces to us and well flushed out, though my favorite is not his main character, William Day, no I was for more interested in Dr. Kingsley a self appointed medical examiner who is at the forefront of forensic science.  If this series is to continue I hope Grecian recognizes that Kingsley may be a better  protagonist than Day. It is really Kingsley who drives the story along.

I picked the book up on a Friday and had it done by Saturday night; this is not a book that is easy to put down. The action  is set at just the right pace you don’t feel exhausted yet it keeps you hooked , you will want to keep reading if only to see the killer(s) come to justice.  If you start this book late in the day be prepared to read long into the night. I was up late because I just had to finish it!

There has been some talk regarding Grecian’s decision to quickly let the readers know who the killer is. I had no such qualms, as I found the killer to be creepy; he gave the book its edge. My problem with the book is that as we enter deeper and deeper into the killer’s mind, we are given clues that there is more going on. We have to ask, who else has he killed? Sadly, this is not resolved to my satisfaction. The one other issue I have, is when the killer and the detective meet. If you think you may have missed something rest assured, you did not. This is an error on the editor’s part. I have come across this when editing a book. The author may know how it is two characters find themselves in the same place but fail to write about it. It is up to a good editor to point this out.

There are a few scenes that did not work for me, but without getting into spoiler alert territory, which I hate, I can’t go into. Again, a good editor could have warned Grecian he was turning some of his characters into Keystone cops; the killer at times seemed to be crying out “catch me” but the police fail to put the pieces in place.  Having said this, I still highly recommend the book, if nothing else for Grecian’s flawless look at Victorian England and the birth of modern police forensics. I am looking forward to his next adventure.

Thank you to Putnam Books and Librarything’s Early Reviewer program for allowing me to review this book.

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