The Yard by Alex Grecian – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings continues his quest to read as many historical fiction novels as possible with The Yard, written by Alex Grecian, set in Victorian England and published by Penguin Books.
“Entertaining, creative look at life after Jack the Ripper – fans of Victorian England-set novels will love The Yard despite a few historical inaccuracies.” ~The Founding Fields
Okay, we all love a bit of Sherlock Holmes, don’t we? That was the first thing that sprung to mind when I saw the cover of The Yard, and although it turned out to be different to Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s novels, The Yard was still an entertaining read. It’s large, but you will find yourself flicking through the pages quite quickly with short, sharp chapters in a similar style of James Patterson. However, The Yard is a lot better than most of Patterson’s huge co-authored output, and despite its flaws, is guaranteed to keep you entertained whilst you’re reading it.
Victorian London is a cesspool of crime, and Scotland Yard has only twelve detectives—known as “The Murder Squad”—to investigate countless 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 twelve . . .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.
This is a time period that I have come to love through the way that it is presented in the Sherlock Holmes novels, and Grecian manages to bring the setting well and truly to life. We get a realistic look into life in the Victorian era, with a well thought out plot that will keep you captivated and some really strong characters that are likeable (well, the good guys), and interesting.
However, as always in historical fiction novels, one has to be on the lookout for historical inaccuracies. And, although I didn’t find any in my last review of Under the Eagle, a roman-era set novel by Simon Scarrow, I found some here, which disappointed me a bit. There are several Americanisms in The Yard which probably wouldn’t have been found in 1890’s London, such as ‘Train Station’ and ‘Pardon Me’, which slightly detracted from the overall experience of the book, although not by a lot and I quickly brushed them aside at the fantastic story that Grecian had me enthralled in.
An atmospheric book, The Yard captures a dark, gritty and damp look at Victorian England and is quite a large one, but don’t let you put that off as you’ll breeze through it quite quickly. Although the novel takes a while to get going with a lot of scene-setting, once you get hooked on this you won’t be able to put it down. Released on the seventh of June, The Yard is not a novel to pass by.
The book is fast paced, and the author seems to have captured the ‘thriller’ aspect of the novel as despite its huge size it grabs hold of you and won’t let you go. Although it isn’t the next Sherlock Holmes, it’ll make for an entertaining read, as whilst you’re reading Alex Grecian’s debut novel, it won’t feel like a debut book, and by the end – you’ll be wanting more from Grecian who has delivered an enjoyable read here.
The opening line is a powerful one, a read that’s going to hook you in straight away, creating a sense of mystery before you even know what’s going on.
“Nobody noticed when Inspector Christian Little of Scotland Yard disappeared, and nobody was looking for him when he was found.”
Whilst reading The Yard, I got an idea that it was the first novel in a series, and I can’t wait to see where Grecian takes the reader if he chooses to return to this setting. Although the reader knows ‘whodunit’ quite early on with POVs from the murderer, the novel still manages to make itself enjoyable. The Yard is not one that you’ll want to miss out on despite its flaws.
Grecian’s characters aren’t one dimensional, they’re multi-layered and are one of the strongest parts in the book. Day’s a likable protagonist who you’ll want to root for, and the villains are ones that you’ll want to hate, which helps make up for the historical inaccuracies, and fans of Sherlock Holmes and other Victorian-era novels should love this one.