A tale of Victorian crime and investigation

The Yard by Alex Grecian is set in London just after the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper. Walter Day is a new police officer at Scotland Yard which has a group of men who look into murders and other serious crimes and who are beginning to use basic forensic techniques. This story is set at a time when murder is almost accepted in the capital as part of the life of the city and the officers are trying to change attitudes and do things differently.

Walter Day becomes the lead investigator when the body of another police officer is found in a trunk at the railway station. He has to work out what has happened and how he has died. Other members of the team help to varying degrees but they have a huge caseload.

The story is told from a number of points of view including some from other members of the investigative team and some from the perpetrator of the murder. This means that we follow more than one investigation and are shown how people at all levels of society live.

This is quite a dark book. There is massive corruption but also even more apathy, especially when the victim of one crime is a young boy and when one witness is a homeless man with obvious mental health issues. The author is trying to show us London from the bottom up and what it might have been like to live in poverty with the image of Jack the Ripper hanging over the city.

This is a fast paced read where you do sometimes feel that the author has a bingo card for Victorian London and is attempting to include something to fill every square on it. The crimes are not really mysteries and the book is mostly involved in introducing you to Victorian London and especially its underside. The book is also the first in a series so you need to get to know a number of characters who will presumably feature in subsequent volumes. It’s an enjoyable read, however, and well enough written that you should enjoy the time spent with the characters.

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