The Yard by Alex Grecian
It’s 1890’s London and forensic crime solving is in its infancy in Alex Grecian’s mystery The Yard. The public is disillusioned with the Metropolitan Police force since its failure to arrest Jack the Ripper. Considering only 12 men are tasked with solving the many murders that take place in London on a daily basis, it would seem they are set up to fail before they even begin. The London portrayed in this novel is not romantic in any sense. It is tough, gritty and dirty but that only adds to the mystifying ambience as the reader sees Scotland Yard take shape.
Walter Day is the newest addition to the “murder squad” and when one of their own is murdered, Day is handed the case to solve. After a second policeman is killed, the question must be asked: Is someone targeting the members of the police force for death? Assisting Day are constable Hammersmith, Detective Blacker and Dr. Kinsley.
Following on the heels of the deaths of the policemen are the murders of men who have been found with their beards shaved and their throats cut. As the police force seeks to find answers, it appears that two different serial killers are targeting men in London.
It sometime seems, in the course of the novel, that the police cannot do anything right but it makes the novel all the more interesting as the reader sees them persevere in the wake of overwhelming odds. Day is an extremely likable character as he digs into the case of the murdered police. He must work in the cesspool that is London but he never gives up as he sloughs through the muck and gore.
Dr. Kinsley is a fascinating character as he pushes the envelope in attempting to use medical evidence to point police in the right direction in solving crimes. In most cases, the tools he must work with to learn what a body has to tell are extremely outdated. The reader is left to wonder how any crime ever got solved. Nonetheless, the good doctor would make a great addition to any CSI team. Just imagine what he could do today!
There is at least one more novel with these characters and it would be nice to see it develop as a series. This is Grecian’s debut novel (he has published in the graphic novel genre) and he did a bang-up job of it. My copy has been passed on to a friend and one cannot give a better compliment than that.
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