The Yard (Putnam $26.95) is one of our 2012 First Mystery Club Picks
Alex Grecian’s impressive debut novel, THE YARD (G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Publication Date: May 29, 2012) is an imaginative historical thriller that takes readers to London, circa 1889, in the fledgling years of the city’s legendary police force. In the wake of Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror —and the Yard’s failure to apprehend him—the Commissioner of police, Sir Edward Bradford, has assembled a team of twelve detectives to investigate the constant wave of homicides in the British capital. The twelve men, known as the Murder Squad, face a seemingly impossible, thankless task in a city where human life is cheap and countless bodies wash to the banks of the Thames every month. But then one of their own is brutally murdered, and the men of the Murder
Squad are galvanized into action, battling time and the possibility a new rampage of killing has begun. Detective Inspector Walter Day is the newest member of the Murder Squad, an erstwhile country constable who has taken the London position to provide a more suitable life for his new wife. It is Day who is called to Euston Square Station where a body has been found in an abandoned steamer trunk. The battered and dismembered corpse belongs to one of his fellow inspectors, Christian Little, killed by multiple stab wounds from a pair of shears, his mouth and eyes sewn shut with heavy thread. The reason for this unspeakable crime is impossible to discern, but Day surmises that his fellow officer was killed in the course of his duties.
“Lusciously rich with detail, atmosphere and history, and yet as fast paced as a locomotive,The Yard will keep you riveted from page one.It’s truly a one- or two-sitting read.” —Jeffery Deaver, author of Carte Blanche and The Bone Collector
Little’s death inspires alarm and indignation among his comrades at the Metropolitan Police Force, and their commissioner, Sir Edward Bradford, places top priority on solving the case. The few clues that Little’s corpse reveal are decoded by Dr. Bernard Kingsley, a pioneering doctor in the field of forensics. Meanwhile, a seemingly unconnected crime is discovered by Constable Nevil Hammersmith, who is alerted to the dead body of a young boy that has been abandoned in the chimney of a house. The boy was mostly likely a climber, employed by a chimney sweep to clean the narrow reaches where an adult cannot go. When the child became inextricably wedged into the chimney, he was left to die. In an era without child labor or welfare laws, Hammersmith’s outrage at the abuse is remarkable. And his decision to find the man responsible – in defiance of his direct orders – is nothing short of extraordinary.
In plain sight, Det. Little’s killer moves throughout the city with impunity. His connection to the police force is an intimate one, his warped desires concealed beneath a veil of propriety. When a second police officer inadvertently stumbles upon this dangerous man’s unusual behavior—and meets a death similar to Little’s—the killer’s cautious modus operandi begins to unravel. It is Dr. Kingsley who aids in connecting the dots, thanks to his newfound, if controversial study of fingerprints, which he believes provide a unique marker that can help prove who has committed a crime. And it is Walter Day whose faith in this unusual process – and in the unusual Dr. Kingsley – will save many more lives.
The first in a series, THE YARD introduces lovers of historical crime fiction to a compelling new cast—some fictional, some based on real-life historical figures. Grecian, who previously created the acclaimed graphic novel series, Proof, brings a visual artist’s eye to his atmospheric depiction of Victorian London, and a natural storyteller’s gifts to his multi-thread narrative.
About the Author
After leaving a career in advertising, working on accounts that included Harley-Davidson and The Great American Smokeout, Alex returned to his first love: writing fiction. He created the long-running and critically acclaimed graphic novel seriesProof, which NPR named one of the best books of 2009. The series stars John “Proof” Prufock, a special-agent-sasquatch.
One of the Proof storylines is set in the 1800′s and inspired Alex’s debut novel The Yard. It is the first in a projected series about the famous London Murder Squad. The second reportedly will focus on the development of photography in criminal investigation.
Alex has also designed over 80 typefaces. He currently lives in the Midwest with his wife and son. And a cat. And a tarantula.