London, 1889. Jack the Ripper has finished his work, but the police’s inability to apprehend him results in an openly contemptuous public. Scotland Yard is restructured — an already overworked cadre of 12 detectives is now assigned to investigate murders. The newest addition to this squad is handed an ordinary case (a trunk murder) with an unprecedented victim: one of the squad’s own inspectors.
Although he is known for his graphic novels, The Yard is Grecian’s first written novel, and it’s a commendable effort. His skill in the visual medium transfers to prose — all the gruesome sights, sounds, and smells of a depraved Victorian London are vividly depicted. There are sections not for the squeamish. Suspense is competently handled, as are the multiple points of view which make up the narrative. The characterization is particularly adept, and there’s even the occasional thought-provoking comment on industrialization and metropolitan Victorian society. If there’s fault to be found, it’s that the novel occasionally devolves into melodrama, but always finds its way back out again. Realism is added through leads that sometimes aren’t and plot threads unraveled unpredictably or snipped off altogether. Add to it all a few genuinely funny moments courtesy of absurdity and human nature, and you have The Yard: a gripping police procedural mystery and cracking good read. Recommended.
432 (US), 544 (UK)