While I was on my recent business trip, I decided to purchase a few “real” books because there is that interminable period of time on the plane when you can’t have your electronics turned on and I don’t think you can bring enough magazines to fill that gap of time – or at least I don’t want to – they are heavy (and expensive!)
So, while I was in California, I stopped by the local bookstore and picked up a few books to read. I had forgotten what a heady experience it is to enter a bookstore – the smells, the sight of all those books – it’s just heaven to me. As I was all alone (another wonderful experience) I spent probably close to an hour or more just browsing the shelves and looking at all sorts of books.
It’s something you don’t even realize you miss, when you move to digital books; the experience of being in a bookstore – perusing the stacks and stumbling across books you didn’t even know existed.
I was in heaven.
And one of the books I stumbled across was this one –The Yard, by Alex Grecian. I have to say, it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
If you follow me on Facebook, you may remember that I asked for book recommendations a while back. I had been reading a series and was finished with that series and in a bit of a quandary about what to read next. I got some great suggestions but none really “grabbed” me as I read them and I was still looking for a new book to suck me in and take me away from the world for a few hours.
The Yard certainly did that. My flight home just flew by (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and I found myself wishing I could just snuggle up on the sofa and read until I finished the book once I got home. (the kids were having none of that, though)
The story is an old-fashioned murder mystery, set in Victorian England around the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. In the story, a fledgling murder squad is formed at Scotland Yard and the detectives have been tasked with solving the murders occurring in London. They have their hands full, often with close to 100 unsolved cases each. Confidence is low, morale is lower and they are scorned by the citizens who feel they were let down when the Jack the Ripper murders were never solved.
Enter Walter Day, a recently promoted detective who really feels he doesn’t quite belong on the murder squad even though he was hand picked by his predecessor for the job. Walter is recently married – to a young lady above his station – and is hoping the detective position will afford him the lifestyle his wife had been accustomed to before their marriage.
When a train case is abandoned at the local station and the body of a Murder Squad detective is found inside, Walter is assigned to the case, simply because he was the first on the scene. He teams up with Dr. Bernard Kingsley, a local physician who has appointed himself to the coroner’s position and who embraces “new” medicine and forensic investigation.
Together, they begin to research the murder and to try to track down the killer. As the story progresses, other murders are intertwined and cause them to wonder if this is another serial killer or just coincidental similarities linking the cases. Additionally, the murderer is hot on their tails and tries his best to interfere with the investigation at every turn.
At the same time, Constable Nevil Hammersmith is compelled to investigate the case of a missing young boy who is found dead in a chimney. Young children were often abducted and pressed into labor as “climbers” for chimney sweeps and this child apparently died in service to one. Hammersmith is instructed not to investigate but can’t let the death go because it brings back memories of his childhood labors in the mines.
Grecian does an excellent job building the characters and bringing them to life – you are not only following the mystery of the murders but the development of these three men as they find their way in investigating them and in establishing themselves within the Murder Squad at Scotland Yard.
I won’t tell you any more about the plot – I want you to experience it for yourself, but I will say this: I didn’t want to put the book down and I was really sad when it was finished. I’m hoping that there are future stories planned for this crew as I was sad to say goodbye when the story ended.
If you’re looking for a great summer read, definitely consider The Yard.