Jack the Ripper has been quiet after his brutal murder spree, but remains at-large. The citizens of London are uneasy, afraid and disillusioned with Scotland Yard for letting “Saucy Jack” slip through their fingers. Scotland Yard has created a Murder Squad, 12 of their best detectives who are to work on solving murders in London, and hopefully winning back public trust.
Walter Day is a newly promoted detective from Devon who has only been in London for a week when the body of one of the Murder Squad detectives is discovered in a steamer trunk; not only has he been murdered, but his eyes and lips have been sewn shut. There is a flurry of righteous outrage over the death of one of their own. Before anyone can get too far along in the investigation, another constable is found dead. Could Jack the Ripper be back, and targeting the police who failed to catch him?
And so begins a roller coaster ride of a story titled The Yard. This is a mystery, but more than that it’s a suspenseful, psychological thriller that keeps you turning the pages until the very end. The reader learns the identity of the killer before Detective Inspector Day and his fellow officers, and this knowledge lends to the tension.
We meet Constable Nevil Hammersmith, a Welshman who grew up working in the coal mines as a child, and who is married to his job; Dr. Bernard Kingsley, who is fascinated with the budding science of forensics – if it can even be called that at this early stage – and who assists the Yard by determining cause of death and analyzing trace evidence to the best of his ability. His current fascination is the new science of fingerprint identification.
We also meet the newly appointed Police Commissioner, Sir Edward Bradford; wise, compassionate and very tough when he needs to be.
The author switches the story between these and other various characters in short chapters that keep you on the edge of your seat, and reading until the wee hours just to finish the book.
The characters are well-developed, the atmosphere is rich, and while the dialogue may be a bit too modern and Americanized, the story is so chilling that it just sweeps you along. And the best news is that this is just the first book in a series by author Alex Grecian. He has also published The Black Country and The Devil’s Workshop, further adventures of Walter Day and his colleagues. I finished The Devil’s Workshop at 11:30 last night – there was going to be no sleep for me until I read the ending.
Grecian has set the tone perfectly for the fourth book in the series which is to be published in May. I will definitely be taking that one home first. I can honestly say that Alex Grecian is now on my “must read” list of mystery writers.