Series: Scotland Yard's Murder Squad Series,
Published by Penguin on May 29th 2012
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary, Mystery & Detective
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
1889, LONDON. JACK THE RIPPER’S REIGN OF TERROR IN FINALLY OVER, BUT A NEW ONE IS JUST BEGINNING.
Victorian London—a violent cesspool of squalid depravity. Only twelve detectives—The Murder Squad—are expected to solve the thousands of crimes committed here each month. Formed after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure in capturing Jack the Ripper, the Murder Squad suffers the brunt of public contempt. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own…A Scotland Yard Inspector has been found stuffed in a black steamer trunk at Euston Square Station, his eyes and mouth sewn shut. When Walter Day, the squad’s new hire, is assigned to the case, he finds a strange ally in Dr. Bernard Kingsley, the Yard’s first forensic pathologist. Their grim conclusion: this was not just a random, bizarre murder but in all probability, the first of twelve. Because the squad itself it being targeted and the devious killer shows no signs of stopping before completing his grim duty. But Inspector Day has one more surprise, something even more shocking than the crimes: the killer’s motive.
Alex Grecian’s The Yard tells the story of the twelve detectives of Scotland Yard known as “The Murder Squad.” The novel picks up on the heels of Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror over the London streets. In the wake of those heinous and infamous crimes, citizen moral is as low as their faith in the police sworn to protect them. In walks Walter Day, a new detective who quickly finds himself embroiled in the hunt for a new crazed killer, but this one hunts police. Day and his fellow detectives must find this new killer before he takes another one of their own. This crime isn’t the only one the detectives have on their hands. Aside from the cop killer, a young, ambitious constable Hammersmith begins his own investigation into the death of a child chimney sweep left for dead in a wealthy home. Set in 1889 during a time when children were seen as small adults, the constable runs into opposition during his investigation. Lastly, someone has a hankering for killing bearded men. Since the murdered detective had facial hair, the detectives must sift through clues to discover if these crimes are connected.
There was a lot going on in this novel. Two of the cases (the cop killer and the dead child) were very interesting, but the “Bearded Man Killer” failed to deliver the goods. While the other two cases were engaging and offered up loads of suspense, the third case seemed a bit too comical. Grecian would have done better to leave this case on the cutting room floor, or to at least wait longer before revealing the identity of the killers. Even though I didn’t love all three of the cases, I did enjoy Grecian’s detectives. Day was a great leading character as was Hammersmith. One character I couldn’t really get into very much was Dr. Kingsley. Hopefully he’ll be better developed in the second book of the series.
Overall, while I enjoyed reading The Yard, I did find it to be very formulaic. The cops were dedicated and the villains’ motives were simple. Despite being serial killers, none of them were as tricky or smart as Jack the Ripper. Since DNA and fingerprinting hadn’t been invented and/or put into widespread use, the detectives spent most of the book running around in circles while we, the reader, were made aware of important information. This means that readers are reading to see how the detectives figure out what Grecian tells us in the first 100 pages of the novel. Because of this, The Yard is more a thriller than a mystery. If you’re a fan of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, than this novel will be right up your alley.
This is the review for the fourteenth book I’ve read for the 2014 Historical Fiction Challenge.