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The Resource The Yard, Alex Grecian

The Yard, Alex Grecian

Label
The Yard
Title
The Yard
Statement of responsibility
Alex Grecian
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
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
Member of
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • In his debut novel, Grecian powerfully evokes both the physical, smog-ridden atmosphere of London in 1889 and its emotional analogs of anxiety and depression. It’s the year after Jack the Ripper has apparently stopped his depredations. Among the Ripper’s victims were the London police, especially the 12-member “Murder Squad,” which endured ridicule from both “Saucy Jack” and the public for its bumbling failure to solve the case. But the squad is still at work investigating homicides as Grecian’s tale begins. Mixing fact and fiction (the Murder Squad did exist), Grecian has one of the squad’s own, Detective Christian Little, discovered rolled up in a steamer trunk in London’s Euston Station, his eyes and mouth sewn shut. The newest (fictional) member of the squad, Detective Inspector Walter Day, is assigned to investigate, aided by the first forensic pathologist in Britain, Dr. Bernard Kingsley (based on Dr. Bernard Spilsbury). More murder, both of police and of a chimney sweep, and more outrage follow. Grecian’s infusion of actual history adds to this thriller's credibility and punch. A deeply satisfying reconstruction of post-Ripper London. -- Fletcher, Connie (Reviewed 05-01-2012) (Booklist, vol 108, number 17, p46)
  • To hunt for anachronisms in historical fiction is a churlish hobby, but there’s a telling one in Alex Grecian’s affable first novel, a Victorian thriller. A detective describing his sense of responsibility to the families of murder victims employs a 1990s buzzword that it’s exceedingly unlikely would have entered the mind, much less the mouth, of a man in 1889: “closure.” The Yard has a great many virtues, including a Dickensian profusion of memorable minor characters, but this misstep lays bare its most serious flaw. Its heroes get shallower, not deeper, until by the book’s conclusion they seem like moralizing contemporary stick figures, freed from the complexity of their time. What feels like a third of the novel is devoted to their good deeds and subsequent mutual congratulation. In this mist of bonhomous closure, the suspense of a thriller fades. At the start, police in Euston Station discover a trunk stuffed with the corpse of a Scotland Yard inspector. In the course of a few mostly sleepless days, three men—Walter Day, a newly promoted member of the Yard’s “Murder Squad”; Nevil Hammersmith, a shrewd street officer; and Bernard Kingsley, an eccentric physician with an interest in the emerging science of forensics—circle a net around the murderer. The Yard also pays welcome stylistic homage to the rambling Victorian triple-decker, with plots and characters spiraling out in every direction from its initial crime scene. Among others there are a pair of prostitutes haunted by memories of Jack the Ripper, a new police commissioner, an amiably violent thief named Blackleg—and, in absorbing occasional glimpses, the murderer, a madman trying to recreate his lost family. It’s this sense of madness that is the book’s greatest strength. Grecian places the action of his story directly in the shadow of the Ripper murders, and sketches, intriguingly, how those crimes have forced the police to accept that murder can have darkly psychological motives. Grecian has a fine, flexible, curious voice, and The Yard looks as if it could be the start of a promising series; indeed, the enterprising Blackleg on his own could profitably drive a sequel, and the rise of forensics is a fascinating subject. And then, Grecian’s error is a common one. Even great authors working in the genre, such as David Mitchell and Patrick O’Brian, have given their characters an unrealistically modern broadness of mind. After all, the past is a brutish place, and what a real Walter Day would have believed in his heart—about sex, class, race—would likely alienate us immediately. The solution most writers have found, alas, is perhaps the most serious deficiency historical fiction has: a palliating dishonesty about what went on in the heads of people in other times. To his credit, Grecian lends great realism to his secondary characters; he may just be too fond of his primary ones to permit them their true context. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (June) Charles Finch is the author of A Death in the Small Hours, which Minotaur will publish in November. --Staff (Reviewed April 9, 2012) (Publishers Weekly, vol 259, issue 15, p)
  • In 1889 London, detectives at Scotland Yard are smarting from their failure to catch Jack the Ripper. Morale worsens when they discover the mutilated body of one of their own, stuffed in a steamer trunk left in Euston Square Station. The newest addition to the force, Walter Day, is put in charge of the investigation. Fortunately, Day has the help of coroner Dr. Kingsley, who uncovers critical evidence thanks to his research into the budding field of forensics. A determined Constable Hammersmith also lends a hand in putting the pieces together while tracking down a kidnapper. Graphic novelist Grecian (Proof ) displays a flair for clever and amusing language as well as creating vivid (and occasionally gruesome) depictions of places and events. VERDICT This excellent historical murder mystery series opener and debut introduces a fascinating cast of characters and will appeal to fans of Sherlock Holmes or Jack the Ripper tales. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/11.]— Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib. --Laurel Bliss (Reviewed April 15, 2012) (Library Journal, vol 137, issue 07, p78)
  • It's 1889, the year after Jack the Ripper terrorized the East End, but London is still awash with murders--96 bodies have been retrieved from the Thames in one month, most with their throats slit--and the detectives of Scotland Yard demonstrate their usual mixture of savvy and incompetence. The first victim the Yard has to contend with is Christian Little, whose mutilated body is found inside a trunk at Euston Square Station, a murder not just horrifying, but also embarrassing because Little is a detective inspector at Scotland Yard. Put in charge of the case is Walter Day, recently brought in from Devon and hence innocent of the previous year's failures. In fact, the Yard's new Murder Squad, an elite group of detectives of which Little had been a member, had been assembled in response to the failure of the Metropolitan Police to catch "Saucy Jack." Assisting Day is Dr. Bernard Kingsley, a surgeon at University College Hospital and incipient forensic pathologist. Heading the Murder Squad is Col. Sir Edward Bradford, a gruff no-nonsense administrator with good instincts about the competence of police officers. Grecian creates a large and eccentric cast of characters, including a detective inspector who can't stop making jokes (usually bad puns), a mentally disturbed dancing man, a brutal tailor (whose telltale shears are used in untoward ways), the seductive wife of a doctor, and two coldblooded prostitutes, now perpetrators of crime rather than victims. But the murderer keeps making fools of the Murder Squad by bumping off more detectives. Although the whodunit aspect of the novel is a bit weak, Grecian successfully re-creates the dark atmosphere of late Victorian London.(Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2012)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10078839
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Grecian, Alex
Dewey number
823/.92
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6107.R426
LC item number
Y27 2012
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
Series statement
Murder Squad
Series volume
bk. 1
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Murder
  • Detective and mystery stories
  • Detective and mystery stories
  • Murder
  • England
Label
The Yard, Alex Grecian
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm.
Extent
422 pages
Isbn
9780399149542
Lccn
2011050663
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)761846548
Label
The Yard, Alex Grecian
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm.
Extent
422 pages
Isbn
9780399149542
Lccn
2011050663
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)761846548

Library Locations

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      33.387732 -84.816797

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