The Yard: A Novel by Alex Grecian (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012. 421 pp)

Alex Grecian is the author of the long-running and critically acclaimed graphic novel series Proof. The Yard is his first novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Victorian Murders

“Nobody noticed when Inspector Christian Little of Scotland Yard disappeared, and nobody was looking for him when he was found” (1).

The year is 1889, and a wave a murders has swept across Victorian London. The culprit? None other than Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper has concluded his murdering spree, but the police’s inability to actually apprehend him results in an unnerved public. Scotland Yard, newly created, has twelve inspectors known as “The Murder Squad” that investigate thousands of murders every month. The Yard captures the dark, gritty nature of Victorian England, and the murders therein.

Walter Day, the protagonist of the novel, has recently been appointed as an inspector. But, he has a rough first day on the job when his colleague Christian Little was found in a trunk, stabbed repeatedly. The last thing the newly created Scotland Yard needs is another serial murder, but it looks like this one is targeting police officers. Walter, in Holmesian fashion, is joined by Dr. Kingsley, a forensic pathologist. With his help they work a few clues to try to prevent another murder of a fellow policeman.

Meanwhile, another murderer is on the loose, targeting men with beards and slicing their throats. In addition, a chimney sweep is buying little boys only to allow them to die under his care. Jack the Ripper has inspired a plethora of serial killers, creating a new genre of crime for the Scotland Yard detectives to try to solve. The strange murders are known almost immediately to the reader, but Grecian takes special care to cultivate a story where the protagonists take a while to catch on, only causing the reader to get more and more aggravated. The question is, will the policemen actually solve the case, or will the face another epic failure similar to the Jack the Ripper case?

Villainous Perspective

The reader regularly follows the villain’s perspective, thereby knowing the inner-workings of the murders themselves. The reader discerns the guilty parties not that far into the book. Meanwhile the police are under great stress trying to rebuild the reputation of The Yard, while not being able to solve new cases. The reader is rooting for the team to make a good name for themselves, while knowing more than the protagonists do. The narrative grips the reader.

The fast-paced nature of the book also kept the reader entertained, wanting and waiting to know more. Though it may not be the best literature out there, it’s a good read due to the thriller-like nature. Alex Grecian has found a James Patterson-esque formula in which corpses keep turning up, the reader knows more than the book’s protagonist. If you enjoy Sherlock Holmes, or perhaps once treaded the pages of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, this fast-paced literature is for you. At the same time, however, if you’re looking for some historical fiction to stimulate your brain, perhaps this one might be a little disappointing.

Verdict: 3 out of 5

Posted By: Andrew Jacobson

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