Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint Edition
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In his mystery novel The Yard, Grecian sets out to create a compelling successor to Jack the Ripper, perhaps the most notorious and enigmatic serial killer of them all. Does he succeed?
One year after Jack the Ripper, another killer is on the loose in the city of London. He is targeting the police. The case is assigned to newly-promoted Inspector Walter Day of the Metropolitan police force. Together with Dr. Bernard Kingsley and his colleagues from the Yard, Day undertakes this difficult case that if not solved quickly, can deliver a knockout punch to the morale of the entire police force.
I wanted to rate this book higher; it had many elements going for it – an interesting premise, believable characters, good language. Somehow, sum of these parts did not match with the whole. I will take each element and put forward my thoughts on it.
The Yard has an interesting premise. One year after Jack the Ripper, London police are yet to recover from the moral blow the case has caused. There is a separate murder squad now. However, it is manned by only eleven detectives and they are ill equipped to deal with increasing crime. London, being the largest city of the world’s biggest empire, is growing at breakneck speed, and so is crime. More than their physical inability to cope, it is the fear that the Ripper has opened floodgates for the same type of deranged personality to go on a killing spree, that is more frightening. So when a killer starts targeting the police in a gruesome way, the case takes precedence.
I am no expert on Victorian England and therefore unqualified to comment on the “correctness” of language of that era; but felt that Grecian has done a competent job. You can imagine London as it was, a big city with its glaring class divide. Life was difficult for poor and death cruel. Grecian creates the dark and brooding London with its foul weather successfully.
This is where the book scores. I liked all the main characters – Inspector Day, Constable Hammersmith and Dr. Kingsley. All are unique in one way; they are different from their companions in the way they think. All show progressive thinking, Dr. Kingsley is using his forensic research for benefit of police, Day and Hammersmith are clear headed and truly care for justice. They are compassionate and humane and do their best to ensure that justice is delivered. Author narrates their different background and the way it shaped their thinking.
This is where the book faltered for me. I think the book suffered from overplotting. The killer is not difficult to guess and is revealed in the first half itself. After that the books becomes a thriller. However, the cat and mouse chase between the police and the killer is predictable. Even though Grecian puts forth killer’s thinking, the book is evasive about killer’s motive and his past. The Yard also has other parallel minor subplots and another killer who is targeting bearded men in the city but again here the mystery element was weak and the killer’s motive farfetched at the best.
If you like mysteries with historical backdrop, you will like The Yard. I hope Grecian’s next book, The Black County turns out much more to my liking.