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4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched Victorian crime...
In the wake of the unsuccessful search for Jack the Ripper, the newly formed Murder Squad at Scotland Yard has to deal with the murder of one of their own detectives, the first in a series of murders that may or may not be linked.

This book has many good features. The author has clearly done a great deal of research on the period and manages to give a...
Published on 4 Jun. 2012 by FictionFan

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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Victorian London? "No way, dude," as they apparently used to say then
I don't like writing wholly critical reviews but in truth I thoroughly disliked this book. It purports to be about the Victorian police force in London, but fails to convince in any way. My copy carries an endorsement from Jeffrey Deaver promising that it is "rich with detail, atmosphere and history." It isn't. The descriptions of London (such as they are) are feeble and...
Published on 6 Sept. 2012 by Sid Nuncius


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4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched Victorian crime..., 4 Jun. 2012
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FictionFan (Kirkintilloch, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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In the wake of the unsuccessful search for Jack the Ripper, the newly formed Murder Squad at Scotland Yard has to deal with the murder of one of their own detectives, the first in a series of murders that may or may not be linked.

This book has many good features. The author has clearly done a great deal of research on the period and manages to give a convincing picture of London and of the workings of the police force of the period. He has created some likeable characters - Inspector Day, newly arrived from Devon and dealing with his first big case, Constable Hammersmith, dedicated, perhaps too much, to his job and Dr Kingsley, an early forerunner of today's staple of crime fiction, the forensic pathologist. The writing style is good and the plot is interesting enough to hold the reader's attention.

However, the book is much longer than it needed to be. It seems as if the author was determined to cram in all of his extensive research whether the plot required it or not. The book relies too heavily on coincidence to carry the plot forward at crucial points. And as other reviewers have pointed out, there are some anachronisms and the occasional Americanism that break the flow and authenticity. A good editor could have resolved most of these problems - it's a pity the publishers didn't employ one.

Overall, a good debut novel with some weaknesses; certainly interesting enough for me to look out for the author's next book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars hooked BUT for the Americanisms, 30 Jun. 2012
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Su (England) - See all my reviews
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It's 1889 and the panic of the "Jack the Ripper" crimes is already starting to fade into distant memory. The police are derided for their failures but they have learnt from their errors. Scotland Yard now has its own Murder Squad.

The Squad are called into action when a man's body is found in a travel trunk of Euston Station. Colonel Sir Edward Bradford and his "side kick" Walter Day discover that they must investigate the death of one of their own detectives. Not only that, but they must work out if this is "just" a murder or if it is an attack on the newly formed Murder Squad themselves.

Helping the squad is Dr Kingsley whose forensic ideas and suggestions are frequently met with scorn.

The story has its dark moments, it's chilling and it's gory in parts, but it's a great read.

If there is one criticism I have it is the use of Americanisms in the book, it doesn't happen too often but it certainly irks when it does happen, of course that's my problem and may not bother anyone else.

I enjoyed this book. It reminded me of Anne Perry in form and story, though it is much more "vivid" in its descriptions of the crime and annoying in the use of Americanisms "dude". The story hooked me right from the start and I will admit I am hoping for more but only with less of the US slang and terminology
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3.0 out of 5 stars flawed but enjoyable tale of murder in Victorian London, 1 Mar. 2015
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Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Yard: Scotland Yard Murder Squad Book 1 (Paperback)
The Yard is a curious kind of crime novel. From near the start the identity of the killer is made clear, as is the reason for the crime, as is the process of investigation. The story is then not a whodunit, whydunit or howdunit. Indeed, there is really no mystery to the tale at all, much of the historical detail is dubious or inaccurate, and the villain is no Jack the Ripper or Moriarty, making the work for the police relatively easy. Instead the narrative is propelled along by a mix of breezy writing, colourful scenes, and some interesting characters and their interplay, the pages turning mainly to see if it is resolved as it inevitably should be. Inspectors Day and Blacker, Constable Hammersmith and Dr Kingsley are all engaging characters, each with a certain vulnerability but determined to solve the case, though the villain and lesser characters, such as the two whores who appear throughout, are more caricature in nature. Given its various flaws, The Yard, is a book I would ordinarily find somewhat annoying, but in this case actually enjoyed - kind of like the low-brow movie you know you should dislike, but watch and like regardless. Overall, then, a flawed but enjoyable tale of murder in Victorian London.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor history, reasonable mystery., 11 May 2012
By 
J. Mcdonald "Yelochre" (Glasgow, UK) - See all my reviews
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As a crime mystery "The Yard" is a fairly diverting piece of entertainment, but with some very considerable limitations. Grecian sets about his story with gusto, staging his murder scene and setting up scenarios, introducing a variety of characters and providing back-stories for them at various interludes within the narrative; the plot is convoluted, multi-stranded and resolves with no loose ends. He drops in some embryonic forensic ideas and a smattering of historical colour along the way for good measure. So far, so good, but that's where the positive side of this novel ends.

If an author sets out to write a novel with an historical setting, the least he/she can do is to ensure that it is as accurate and authentic as possible; this is not the case here.

The book is littered with Americanisms, anachronisms, incongruities and social faux pas - Grecian has no apparent understanding of how rigid the class system was in Victorian Britain - this was a time when people's social standing could be determined by how they dressed; social formalities were observed in public by everyone, regardless of which stratum they belonged - middle-class ladies simply didn't introduce themselves on first name terms, certainly not to policemen or anyone else.
I can see that Grecian has tried to convey the reforming attitude to the police brought in by Sir Edward Bradford - a real-life character, appointed Commissioner in June of 1890 (not 1889) but it really doesn't wash - the level of informality and basic inaccuracies throughout the novel render it completely hollow, to the point of incredulity. A Welshman called Hammersmith (!) who lived on a farm but worked down a mine as a child? Really? He'd need to be in his fifties to have had a childhood like the one Grecian describes and chimney sweeps employing children had been outlawed a decade before this novel's setting.
Rather tellingly, there is no mention at all of the police strike - in the very year this story is set - which Bradford had to resolve; no doubt the idea of bolshie British bobbies would not go down well with the American readership.

I was disappointed in this book; if you are prepared to overlook all of its very many failings and just want an undemanding murder mystery in a vaguely old-world setting you may well be happy with this - its fairly engaging within those parameters. If you want a well realised, proper historical novel and you are familiar with the period, think twice - to be blunt, this is set in a 19th century London that exists in an alternative universe of the author's own devising. "The Yard" misses by a mile - or perhaps that should be a kilometre - Grecian unaccountably uses metric measurements in his descriptive passages -very Victorian.
The author has made a classic error - he's taken a bunch of modern-thinking characters and dumped them in a period he hasn't adequately researched; they don`t think, act or behave like Victorians and they speak like contemporary Americans.

I cannot reasonably recommend this as satisfying historical fiction.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Yard, 24 July 2014
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One of the worst books I've ever tried to read. I normally never give a book less than two stars but have made an exception in this case. Drab, flat characters that all merged into one and totally grammatically incorrect dialogue. A definite miss.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Did I hear Dick Van Dyke?, 9 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Yard: Scotland Yard Murder Squad Book 1 (Paperback)
You will no doubt have an idea of the story outline by now so I'll just say I have to agree with previous reviewers - the book has a full complement of anachronisms, inconsistencies, stilted dialogue and misrepresentations of Victorian England's social 'niceties'. It was almost too much when a chimney-sweep and his 'climber' became part of the story (I had already been put in mind of 'Mary Poppins' on a very dark day!) All that said, though, I still finished the book - perhaps there is something there after all?
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Yard Too Far, 7 Jan. 2013
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I bought this book for my wife for Christmas after reading the Guardian's review, then decided to read it myself. I didn't read the review carefully enough, however. I should have taken more note of the warning that the story is, frankly `bonkers'. Mr Grecian's writing is, as the review states, `exuberant' and it's a fairly past paced thriller with an obvious series in mind. And that's the novel's problem, its ultimate obviousness. The punches are telegraphed so far ahead you'd expect a welcoming committee for them as they land.
The characters are drawn from that Hollywood scriptwriters' file of what Brits must have been like way back then, and here the key is the word `drawn'; Mr Grecian apparently wrote a series of comic books before this, which might explain the two dimensional nature of everyone in the book. By page 400, when the suspense should be at its height, I found myself completely uncaring about the fate of any of the protagonists and just wanting to get the damn thing finished so I could read something else.
Oh, but there really was a Colonel Sir Edward Bradford and he really did take charge at the Yard. In 1890. A year after the events of The Yard but that, I guess, is poetic licence.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't hold me that much, but an okay story, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: The Yard: Scotland Yard Murder Squad Book 1 (Paperback)
I have to admit I did expect more from this book than what it delivers. The story is quite fast-paced and takes places over about 48 hours following the death of a Scotland Yard inspector. In this we really follow two plots; the first being who killed Inspector Little and the second being who is shaving and murdering the men of London.

I suppose my gripes with this novel tend to echo the others who have left middle of the road reviews. I can't ever imagine a 19th C. detective utter the words "I'm famished". I can't imagine anyone in 19th C. London saying "gonna". The names chosen for the characters are almost Dickensian in that they're a bit silly. Unlike Dickens however, the author can't quite flesh the characters out so that their quirky names match their personalities. Equally, and I realise that I'm being pedantic, the author just hasn't managed to nail Victorian etiquette and sensibilities. I just can't visualise the boss of bosses being made fun of in public by a detective and instead of being dressed down for it, the boss of bosses just makes a joke of it and is almost too friendly. Equally, I can't see there being inspirational pep-talks and "I won't lose any more men!" by said boss of bosses (I forget his name). It's just too Americanised and it makes it implausable.

At over 500 pages, I felt a little like I didn't get much out of the story for my time. Very little actually happens in this book and I'm still a little unclear why the the two prostitutes storyline was necessary aside from beefing out the main plot by adding a sideline of investigation, and adding a little damp squib of action towards the end of the book.

We're told very early on who is responsible for the murder of the Scotland Yard detective but any attempt later to try and make the culprit semi-humanised just doesn't work. He did x because of reason y. It didn't work. The characters just didn't gel with each other and I finished the book feeling a little flat.

Having said that, if you're looking for a very straight forward read for lying beside a pool on holiday you could do far worse than The Yard. Grecian (either on purpose or accidently) does bring in a character with an interesting background and if you're interested in Jack the Ripper, you'll notice that the previous occupation of The Yard's Dancing Man is almost identical to a real life character named Robert Mann. Mann was a morgue assistant who has recently been suggested as a possible culprit for the Ripper murders. This comparison has little relevance to the actual story, but an interesting comparison, I wonder if Grecian brought this in as a little easter egg for the reader?

All in all, this was an okay book but I can't say much more than that. The ending was so sugary sweet for pretty much everyone involved it could have been a Disney ending. All it needed was a song and dance routine. Probably not something I'd go back and read again, and I doubt it'd inspire to me continue with any other books the author may write, but one I'd suggest for an easy piece of summer reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If you're the type of reader who is doesn't discriminate and is happy to believe anything that's written, 13 July 2014
This review is from: The Yard: Scotland Yard Murder Squad Book 1 (Paperback)
Had this story been based in 1889 New York rather than London it may have earned some credibility. Unfortunately, the police 'murder squad' based in their American-style gated 'squad room' in Scotland Yard come straight out of the USA. The language is quite obviously contemporary American at times and the story, complete with what the author obviously feels to be typically Victorian blood and gore, has scores of historical inaccuracies. To pick one of many, at the dénouement, the detectives are armed (!!) with Colt revolvers, whereas only selected members of the unarmed British Police were trained in the use of Webley revolvers.

If you're the type of reader who is doesn't discriminate and is happy to believe anything that's written, you'll love this.

If not, be warned - this is well written hokum.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor, 25 Jun. 2012
By 
I like the crime genre and I like the Victorians, but I am finding this a slog. It's plot-driven, so maybe further on I'll be breathlessly turning the pages, but at 150 of a 500-page novel, the rest had better be spectacular. Reminding readers that the Jack the Ripper murders happened "last year" is no substitute for a genuine sense of atmosphere and place, and there is very little other than the technicalities to take us - or the characters - back to 1889. It's very dialogue-heavy, which doesn't help when it includes such jarring phrases as "it's a sure thing", "no worries" and references to having shirts in a "closet". This is Grecian's debut and he's been let down by his agent and publisher, who failed to either correct his errors or advise him to write a modern procedural or thriller in a US setting.

For a pacy read in the Victorian crime genre, try Anne Perry, who does this sort of thing much better, and at half the length. Proclaiming that 'The Yard' will delight fans of Kate Summerscale and Sarah Waters, among others, is just shameless publicity blurb.

(Later addition) I can't help but notice the number of 'unhelpful' markers on this review and can only assume that these are either down to fans of the author or, more justifiably, that I hadn't yet finished the book before I wrote the review. I still haven't finished this book: I had to abandon at around 200 pages in. I just did not find the characters convincing enough to hook me into the story, and frankly the anachronistic language made me want to throw the book at the wall. If you know very little about the late-Victorian era, but quite like it as a setting for a crime novel which reads more like a TV script, there is nothing to stop you enjoying this book. I'd like to be more positive about 'The Yard' but I can't, and I'd only be tempted to read Mr Grecian's further efforts if the general consensus held it in much better regard than his debut.
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The Yard: Scotland Yard Murder Squad Book 1
The Yard: Scotland Yard Murder Squad Book 1 by Alex Grecian (Paperback - 3 Jan. 2013)
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