Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Yard

In my last post I mentioned that a book cover rarely sales me on a book.  I must be turning into a big fat sucker lately--or not lately... I usually don't need much of a reason to buy new books--because another cover caught my eye at the book store, and I purchased the book (on audile--sorry B&N).  If you're a fan of Sherlock, you'll enjoy reading or listening to The Yard--the debut novel by Alex Grecian.

The Yard tells the story of several detectives part of Scotland Yard's murder squad.  The setting is 1890's, shortly after the last of the Ripper murders.  London is still reeling from the horror of "Saucy Jack," and the citizens are all too willing to distrust the police's ability to protect them.  When more mysterious murders start happening--one of the victims a murder squad detective--everyone assumes the Ripper has returned.

The characters are fictional, though based on several real-life detectives.  One character--a doctor--is on the cutting edge of CSI theory, and amazes the detectives of the Yard with his analytical and deductive abilities.  It's easy to assume he is the Sherlock of the book, but the doctor doesn't do the actual investigating.  This is left up to two detectives, one an old-school veteran, the other a newbie.  Together, the newbie and doctor give us the Sherlock nod.  Also, there is a beat cop unwilling to let a case go unsolved.  Each of the threads are woven into each other by the end, if only a little too conveniently.  I was completely satisfied by book's end, though, despite a few hiccups.    

There were a few points of writing style that got on my nerve.  For example, when the point of view for the villain is given (third-person limited for the most part), he is referred to as the bald man.  Pointless, since no one would think of themselves this way, and if a name was given he would be as equally unknown to the reader as he is as the bald man.  His identity is revealed so early in the book that it is completely useless to do this little trick.  It was like Grecian had been told to hide his villain's identity from the reader to create suspense, but then decided halfway through to just tell us who the dude was.  Thing is, the suspense came from knowing who the villain was--seeing how close he was to the detectives--and seeing how it all played out with the police on his trail.  If the suspense was supposed to be not knowing who the villain was, there never should have been a point of view for him.    One other thing that seemed odd were a few interludes sprinkled randomly throughout the narrative.  The interludes gave a brief window into the past of three characters--one when a character was a child, and the other two only a few years before the beginning of the story.  I understand why the interludes existed--they are there for an extra view of the main characters.  Problem was that they didn't actually add anything to the narrative.  The information given could have easily been done with a simple paragraph of exposition for each.  I would have liked the interludes to matter more to the tale being told, and maybe a bit more structure as to how they were presented.

I enjoyed The Yard quite a bit.  The narration was excellent, the characters were fun, and industrial London is always an intriguing place to visit.  I would have liked more mystery, and a bit of a darker flavor, but all in all, I can say that it is a novel worth your time.  A sequel is scheduled for next year.

The Yard gets 4 out of 5 stars.    

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to getting this one! The library even has it on audio. Still waiting on Leviathan Wakes, but at least it's in process...