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The Yard by Alex Grecian
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The Yard (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Alex Grecian

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501None20,293 (3.81)67
Member:thiscatsabroad
Title:The Yard
Authors:Alex Grecian
Info:Putnam Adult (2012), Edition: First Edition first Printing, Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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The Yard by Alex Grecian (2012)

Recently added byAprilAnn0814, private library, reannon, TrueNorth, libraryrobin, Philip100
  1. 10
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This is the first book in the Scotland Yard Murder Squad series.
I would have never picked this up on my own, since mainly when I go into a bookstore I make a bee-line for the YA section. However, my boyfriend was searching through the New Release display at our local bookstore and saw The Black Country (the second book in the series) on the shelves. He read the back and immediately said, “You need to read this series, Jas. This book IS you.”
Of course, I am neither a book series NOR am I an 18th century London detective, however, The Yard has many of my favorite Bookish ingredients: mystery, the somehow-both-gritty-and-elegant ambiance of Victorian London, murder, and of course, a hint of adorable romantic dynamics as well; the perfect book for a frigid, overcast January day.
In the wake of their failure to capture and bring to justice the infamous Jack the Ripper, one of Scotland Yard’s homicide detectives is murdered – and the police fear that there are other serial murderers, like Jack, may now be at large – and targeting their own.
The task of solving the murder falls to Walter Day, a young, newly appointed detective on the recently formed Murder Squad at Scotland Yard. The safety and reputation of Scotland Yard rest on Day’s shoulders as he struggles to fill the very talented and loved shoes of his predecessor. I will not go into detail about the plot, since I prefer to let readers go into a book as blind as possible.
The mystery itself is nothing special – especially if you like to watch a lot of CSI (or, like me, marathon Castle whenever you get the chance), but it is captivating and easy to get absorbed into. I fell in love with Walter’s humility and determination and the almost child-like tenacity of incredibly perceptive and intellectual Dr. Bernard Kingsley, who is a pioneer of forensics. I usually find it difficult to really love characters in adult fiction, but I found myself heavily invested in each character’s stories.
I also loved how the story was told from multiple points in time, focusing on multiple characters. It gives the reader a chance to piece together the several cases and mysteries that arise and work out how each character fits into the story. Knowing more than each character does alone is incredibly frustrating at times – but it’s not a decent novel unless you have a strong urge to throw it against the wall at least once.
On a five-star rating system, I’d give this a 3.5. Just shy of t 4 because it gets a little slow/hard to read at some points, however definitely worth the read if you’re into criminal dramas and mysteries. ( )
  jseguin | Mar 31, 2014 |
Interesting suspense/mystery novel set in Victorian England. The tale follows the main character, Inspector Day, as he tries to discover who is butchering his colleagues at the Yard. The murders of two policemen, coupled with a string of bearded men who are being murdered as well, makes for an intriguing story. ( )
  artikaur | Mar 28, 2014 |
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway but have received no compensation for my review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very well written. The language doesn't stray overly into the hard to follow accent of the period so it is a quick read. Good thing, because once you start you won't want to put it down. Lots of character building, intermingling plots, and budding forensic techniques keep you pulled in to the story.

I hope that the author follows this up with more books in the life of the Murder Squad as there is so much foundation to go from, it could easily head in any direction.
( )
  stevewhite71 | Mar 19, 2014 |
Most enjoyable tale of the early days of Scotland Yard. The main character is Inspector Day, new to the yard, and Dr Kingsley, the mortician. Both are developing new procedures that become a part of their respective professions. They are trying to discover the identity of a serial killer. The cast of supporting characters and the life of London are both realistically portrayed.
I look forward to more books from this author. ( )
  Pmaurer | Feb 21, 2014 |
ew things make a reading experience more pleasant than when a book offers all the comforts of a familiar genre without being cliché and still having enough surprises in the plot to keep one eagerly turning pages.

Alex Grecian’s TheYard, the first in a new London Murder Squad series, skillfully achieves this, managing to cloak the reader in a Victorian London fans of the genre will find as familiar as an old, well-worn quilt while simultaneously breathing new life into the setting.

And he does all this without even making the book a mystery, though that doesn't diminish the reading experience at all.

First, the time period.

While setting a novel while London is in the grip of fear caused by Jack the Ripper is old hat, Grecian has interestingly set his novel just after the Ripper murders have stopped. This serves to create a more intriguing environment when police morale is especially low, matched only in its depths by the public’s trust in the police.

Still, it is then that the new murder squad – a special unit of 12 officers – is formed, gated off from the rest of sprawling squad room in the Yard and set to the Sisyphean task of solving some of the thousands of murders the city sees each year.

Fine as a premise in and of itself, but Grecian has injected new life into the well-worn plot foundation, primarily through the uniqueness of the characters populating the squad.

Each officer is fleshed out and surprisingly complex, adding to their realism. Usually, when dealing with a whole squad, to say nothing of the outsiders involved in the murders taking place, writers will be forced to rely on singular defining aspects of each person, creating a group that is almost cartoonish and reminiscent of a formulaic buddy group movie.

Yet Grecian does not, respectfully taking the time to sketch out each man, filling in details that add to their humanity but without bloating the book.

Sgt. Blacker, for example, is a red-hair jokester with an affinity for puns, but he is also loyal and takes his job very, very seriously. The contrasting personality aspects are exceptionally believable, just as one might have a neighbor who is meticulous about their lawn but can’t keep their car clean.

The squad is led by Col. Sir Edward Bradford, who has one arm and has just returned from the British raj. Grecian’s handling of Bradford as an amputee is masterful, acknowledging it in a realistic way without turning Bradford into a two-dimensional, cardboard character defined by one of his more obvious traits.

In short, unlike most authors, Grecian doesn’t shout at the readers from between the lines, screeching, “Look! An amputee! Betcha haven’t seen this before!” as I suspect many writers would inadvertently do.

The same can be said for the ancillary characters. An example would be two brief interactions between a landlady and a supporting characters. Neither of the exchanges are particularly long, but both leave the reader with a vibrant understanding of who the people are.

Then there’s the plot itself.

Or rather, plots, but I won’t say more because I loathe spoiler reviews.

Still, I can only say that just because Grecian reveals who the culprit is does not, surprisingly, mean there isn’t far more tell.

And of course there's Grecian's writing.

And Grecian tells his story exceedingly well, switching between points of view skillfully and subtly interweaving historical detail that taught me – an avid reader of several Victorian London mystery series for the past 20 years – new things about the period.

Though I normally hate dream sequences, Grecian wrote one of the best nightmare sequences I have ever come across, both in terms of writing and actually being frightening.

Short chapters, often opening unexpectedly, give the entire novel the suspenseful rhythm of a train gathering speed on its tracks.

And all of this is accentuated with excellent historical detail. Grecian is a writer who enjoys his research but does not bludgeon the reader over the head with it. He has a fine instinct for what readers will find interesting first and informative second.

Fans of forensic history will undoubtedly enjoy the introduction of Dr. Bernard Kingsley, who teaches our burgeoning squad about some of the newer forensic methods. Again, while the idea of a "rogue" doctor using forensics to help solve a crime is hardly new (after all, Sherlock was developing a chemical to positively identify blood spatter when we meet him), again Grecian somehow makes the concept seem refreshing.

Delightfully, Grecian has ended this first installment with plenty of room to continue to grow. There’s more to learn about the characters, the time period, the setting….like all really good books, one is left eagerly looking forward to spending time with the characters again and learning more about forensics roads carved in the Ripper’s wake.

For more of my reviews, please visit my blog at http://www.bodyonthefloor.blogspot.com. ( )
  Shutzie27 | Feb 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
Readers who enter The Yard’s world-on-the-edge-of-change will be counting days until the sequel, hoping to meet some of these great characters again.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alex Grecianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cavanaugh, MeighanBook designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wood, SaraJacket designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

- Rudyard Kipling, "A Smuggler's Song"
Dedication
For Charity,
who will inspect this dedication
for plot holes.
First words
London, 1889. Nobody noticed when Inspector Christian Little of Scotland Yard disappeared, and nobody was looking for him when he was found.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Victorian London is a cesspool of crime, and Scotland Yard has only 12 detectives - known as “The Murder Squad” - to investigate thousands of murders every month. Created after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure to capture Jack the Ripper, The Murder Squad suffers rampant public contempt. They have failed their citizens. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own... one of the 12....
When Walter Day, the squad’s newest hire, is assigned the case of the murdered detective, he finds a strange ally in the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, Dr. Bernard Kingsley. Together they track the killer, who clearly is not finished with The Murder Squad.... but why?
Filled with fascinating period detail, and real historical figures, this spectacular debut in a new series showcases the depravity of late Victorian London, the advent of criminology, and introduces a stunning new cast of characters sure to appeal to fans of The Sherlockian and The Alienist.
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Suffering public contempt after the Metropolitan Police's failure to capture Jack the Ripper, Walter Day, a member of Victorian London's recently formed "Murder Squad," partners with Scotland Yard's first forensic pathologist to track down a killer who is targeting their colleagues.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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