Title: The Yard
Author: Alex Grecian
Genre: Historical fiction, thriller, mystery
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
First line: Nobody noticed when Inspector Christian Little of Scotland Yard disappeared, and nobody was looking for him when he was found.
Goodreads blurb: Victorian London is a cesspool of crime, and Scotland Yard has only twelve detectives — known as “The Murder Squad” — to investigate countless murders every month. Created after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure to capture Jack the Ripper, The Murder Squad suffers rampant public contempt. They have failed their citizens. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own . . . one of the twelve . . .When Walter Day, the squad’s newest hire, is assigned the case of the murdered detective, he finds a strange ally in the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, Dr. Bernard Kingsley. Together they track the killer, who clearly is not finished with The Murder Squad . . . but why?
I remember reading once about the difference between a mystery and a thriller. In a mystery, the reader is unaware of the perpetrator, discovering clues along with the hero of the piece, while with a thriller, the reader knows who committed the crime and the suspense is in reading how the hero or heroes solve the mystery. I’m not sure if those are official definitions or not, but if they are, then that makes The Yard a thriller, rather than a mystery. Let me assure you, however, that knowing the identity of the murderer did not detract from the suspense I felt while reading this book.
The Victorian era is one of my favorite historical settings, and I found the details of the founding of the Murder Squad to be fascinating. The Scotland Yard had been unable to catch Jack the Ripper, and the Murder Squad is determined to make sure they don’t lose another case – especially one that involves the murder of one of their own.
The formation of this elite, yet overworked, squad, coincides with the birth of forensics. The fact that fingerprints are unique and can be used to identify criminals is something that we all take for granted in this world of computer databases and DNA identification, but it was a completely new concept in the world of the book, and one that many detectives weren’t willing to accept. Because Walter Day, the newest member of the Squad, is willing to trust Dr. Kingsley’s forensic expertise, they are able to track the path of the killer in a completely novel fashion. Their partnership is one that I will be excited to follow as the series progresses.
Grecian has also given us some terrific villains in this book, but I can’t go into details without giving too many plot points away. Suffice it to say that I found their stories and characters utterly engrossing. This book is a total page-turner, and would make perfect pool- or lake-side reading for the summer.