Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Yard by Alex Grecian
As I watch the first day of school creeping closer and closer, I feel compelled to read as much 'brain candy' as possible.  The Yard defines that idea.  In many ways, Alex Grecian combines some of my favorite genres and motifs...Victorian England, gothic settings filled with fog and darkness, child saviors, love and friendship, and some smart detectives thrown into the mix.
This book is set during the year following Jack the Ripper's spree.  The city is still in fear, as Saucy Jack was never caught, the police are reviled as the men who couldn't catch him, and poverty and violence rule the East End of London.  Grecian then throws his main character, Walter Day, into this environment.  He's a new young inspector for Scotland Yard, plucked out of obscurity in Devon, by the expert older detective who died as the man who couldn't nab the Ripper.  Day's new boss at the newly formed Murder Squad is Sir Edmund, whose one-armed physical presence, intelligence, and sense of humor sets a new tone in the building.  Day's cohorts have distinctive and compelling personalities:  Hammersmith, the former coal-mining boy now a city constable, Blacker, the pun-loving affable fellow inspector, Dr. Kingsley, the coroner who's discovering all kinds of 'new' forensic' science, Day's well-to-do and intelligent young wife, and of course, the resident bad guys.  The murder of a policeman begins the story, and it rolls on from there, through both the upper crust and the workhouses of the desperately poor, in the bars where whores and their pimps rule, and the gas-lit morgue.  It is a thick book, but it never felt long.  I finished it in just a few days, as I truly couldn't put it down.  The characters are so richly drawn, you feel as if you've left their company as you close the book.  I truly hope, and expect, Grecian to write another tale with the fellows of the Murder Squad - I'll be standing in line.

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