The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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June 21, 2012

Early Day(s)

London, 1889.  The Metropolitan Police didn't catch Jack the Ripper, and the city has lost respect for the  police. Scotland Yard responds, in part, by naming twelve inspectors to its new murder squad, including Walter Day, who was hand-picked for the squad by a retiring detective and has just arrived from Devon with his young wife.At the same time, a respected London doctor has essemtially appointed himself as the city's medical examiner, conducting autopsies to learn more about how people die and experimenting with the new discovery that fingerprints are unique.  When the worst possible thing happens, and one of the twelve members of the murder squad is murdered, Inspector Day is put in charge of the case, earning resentment from some of the detectives and friendship and help from others.

Alex Grecian is a first-time novelist, and I think that when you read The Yard you can probably tell. I think he's done best with creating interesting, if not especially deep characters, and setting up relationships among them that could be developed further if this turns out to be a series. (I hope so.)  I also think it needs more atmosphere.  The book is well, if not brilliantly, written, though sometimes you might shake your head a little, when the writing is for effect, and strains against common sense…

But he knew he would never take his father’s place in the newer shafts, pounding out the black nuggets and loading them into empty carts to be rolled away down the tunnels by someone else’s children. Nevil had no idea how he would escape the mine, but he had no intention of spending his entire life there as his grandfather had and the way that his father would. Nevil could see the cycle of life and death that took place down in the dark behind the village, and he was determined to break it.  It could be done. His uncle George had run off to London and joined the navy when he was sixteen. Nevil had never met him, but George had become a family legend, a whisper passed around among the children. Someday Nevil would go the city himself, and he would find a job he could be good at, and he would never return to Collier.
      And when he had children of his own, they would spend their days in the sun.
 {Nevil, so determined and philosophical, is four years old.}

There are mysteries that keep you guessing until the end, and others with a twist that you never saw coming, and some where you know early on what happened and who did it, and you're just waiting for the detectives to catch up with you. I can't tell you which kind this one is, in case you're going to read it.  I'm not sure this kind is my favorite, but I found myself getting off the T tonight with 20 pages left to read, and dropping my stuff and curling up on the couch right away so I could find out if I was right.  I enjoyed this book, and I think there's good promise of better things to come from this new writer.


Lisa May said...

Wow, that is one aware & articulate four-year-old :)

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I've had my eye on this one. I was considering the audio book; the narrator sounds fantastic on the sample.

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