A few months back I wrote about a series of murder mysteries, written by Alex Grecian, that I thoroughly enjoyed. The series is called the Scotland Yard Murder Squad, and the fourth book in the series, The Harvest Man, has just reached McClintic Library. I have to say, it was worth the wait!
The three previous books introduced us to Inspector Walter Day, a young, up-and-coming detective with Scotland Yard; Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith, an unlucky but clever colleague; and Dr. Kingsley, the coroner who has a fascination with clues.
The third book, The Devil’s Workshop, told us what had happened to Jack the Ripper (he was still alive, being held prisoner by a vigilante group determined to bring him to their own brand of justice) and introduced us to a murderer called the Harvest Man, after the Harvest spider who lives in attics. The Harvest Man liked to lurk in attics until the family was sound asleep, and then come out to kill. But he had been captured, and was in prison—until he escaped with three other prisoners during a jail break. To make matters worse, Jack the Ripper managed to escape his captors, as well. Walter Day and Nevil Hammersmith are racing against time to find these two madmen.
Grecian brings Victorian London to life: rainy days in a gray city full of fog and grim alleys. His characters are likable – well, the good guys – and very believable. He explores the lack of technology by showing us the difficulties of no rapid communication and no forensic science. Imagine trying to find a boy to deliver an urgent message for a penny rather than having a telephone at hand.
Today, applying forensic science to criminal investigations is commonplace, but the Scotland Yard Murder Squad operates in Victorian London, where such practices are just being born. Dr. Kingsley is very fond of fingerprints, in spite of the Yard’s skepticism, and tries, mostly in vain, to convince the police to preserve a crime scene rather than tramp all over the place destroying evidence. The notion of trying to understand the criminal mind, and searching for patterns of behavior and thought is also new and being tested at this time.
Without giving too much away, let me just say that The Devil’s Workshop ended on a “bit” of a cliffhanger, and the tension immediately continues in The Harvest Man, with the action picking up shortly after the third book ends. The hunt is still on, and time is rapidly running out as the victim count rises.
Oh, and if you thought the cliffhanger was bad in book three, then brace yourself! It’s even worse in book four.
That just means there is a fifth book on the horizon. Lucky for us!