The Yard by Alex Grecian

“Nobody noticed when Inspector Christian Little of Scotland Yard disappeared, and nobody was looking for him when he was found.”

From the very beginning, this book hooks straight into you. From then on, the pace only gets better. But as you follow the twisting trail of bodies, you begin to dig deeper, find that the surface isn’t as thick as you would think.

I picked The Yard up while I was browsing the book store, hoping for something interesting that was on my TBR. Instead, I was met with this cover. And truth be told, what a cover it is. (I’m starting to believe that the mystery genre has the best covers out there. Just take a look at An Experiment in Murder. Brilliant.)

Grecian does a good job of establishing memorable characters. Day was the young detective that had to rise to the occasion. Even when others thought it was best for the seniors to do this job, Sir Edward, a man who’s arm had been torn off by a tiger and hadn’t taken any anesthesia when in surgery, saw something in the perceptive lad. I did as well.

Blacker was fun to read about, even if I was rolling my eyes at his jokes and sometimes childish behavior. The man was too dismissive in some of Dr. Kingsley’s actions, progressive ones for the time.

Hammersmith was a great guy, dedicated to his job, “married” to it, as one character describes him. This leads to some late nights, days without sleep, and perseverance all the time. Sometimes I just wanted him to fall over from exhaustion, but that might’ve ruined the story a little.

Even though these all have POVs, none are the MC. In my opinion, Dr. Kingsley takes this spot. He is the man “credited” for pushing the new science of forensic pathology. Interesting to say the least since I’ve always loved studying criminology. But this man ties the whole story together, the whole ensemble. And his somewhat cynical outlook and reflective attitude made him a favorite.

“’This is where our victims give up their secrets to me.’

‘Our victims?’

‘We’re still alive, after all, and they are not.’

‘And we must claim some responsibility for that, I suppose?’

‘If we choose.’

‘How poetic, Doctor.’”

Setting wise, Grecian evoked a strong image of Victorian London. Steam punk authors try for this and show a view through their rose colored glasses. Grecian throws them off to the ground and smashes them. I loved it, even with the dirt and grime in my eyes. The grit was fun. And for some reason, I felt a noir feeling toward it. Maybe it’s just the dark realism of the time and the detective story. Who knows.

One thing I enjoyed was Grecian set the story after the Ripper killings. If you’ve read, watched, or even heard any of Sherlock Holmes, you know that Scotland Yard was inept. There’s truth to this; the police were despised, thought incompetent fools. Grecian plays a lighter outlook on this, showing the crew as overworked, underpaid people who do this for the sense of justice. It all echoed the current state of our law enforcement.

Where the setting shines, or the other way around, where the characters leave an impact on you, whether it be with a knife or deep words, where the pace pulls you along at unmentionable speeds, this book has one failing; one failing that no mystery novel can have.

The mystery, or reveal of mystery, is horrible. If you’re looking for a mystery that makes you think, this is not your book. And I believe the main cause of this failing is Grecian added too many POVs. I felt the same way with Mark Charan Newton’s Nights of Villjamur.

I can see having a POV from the antagonist, even for both of them. But there was a detail that sadly was too large for me, even if disguised with a red herring. After I found it, and the villain’s POV assured me of his identity, I hoped it was a red herring. No such luck, being almost half-way through the book.

But this story, with its fault, makes up for with its pace. The Yard is a thriller, with both the pros and cons that come from the stereotypical book. As a debut, I want to see more of his work. He has promise and is a great storyteller. I want to become enveloped in the Victorian lifestyle again, one thing in particular I loved about this novel. And if he wants to cut out the villain’s POV, that would be great. Throw more suspense at the reader because he already has a firm grasp at pace.

Rating: 6.5/10

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