Alex Grecian’s debut novel is set during the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper murders in a London that’s been forever changed by them. “Saucy Jack” has, as one character notes, “opened a door to certain deranged possibilities... there will be more like him.” And from the first page of The Yard, there are.
In response to the public outcry at their failure to capture Jack the Ripper, London’s Metropolitan Police Force forms an elite Murder Squad of twelve detectives. After less than a week on the job, the Murder Squad’s newest member, Walter Day, is assigned to solve the gruesome slaying of a fellow detective whose body is found dismembered and stuffed into a trunk. When the body of another member of the Murder Squad is discovered in the same grisly condition, it looks like the killer is determined to pick off the detectives one by one.
At the same time, there’s an investigation afoot involving a series of bizarre killings where men with beards seem to have been targeted. And when a constable finds the body of a chimney sweep’s young assistant stuffed up a chimney, he is determined to get to the bottom of it. And then there’s the small matter of a missing boy.
Grecian keeps a lot of plates spinning in this overstuffed but undeniably fun historical whodunit. There are sinister rich folks, scheming prostitutes, plenty of 19th century forensic detective work, and some very nasty villains - in other words, plenty to like.