A few months after the ghastly murders of Jack the Ripper, the madman is still at large and London's trust in its police force is at an all-time low. Inspector Day, a constable from Devon, had just joined the Yard's Murder squad only to be put in charge of leading the investigation of the violent murder of one of his peers. With no time to question his ability to solve such a horrible murder, Day has no choice but to take the plunge.
The Yard is Grecian's first novel yet it contains none of the frequent errors you see in first publications. His narrative is strong, the plot moves forward at a great pace and there are no plot holes. In fact, the novel ends with no loose ends, all the different subplots eventually connecting to the main story with clockwork precision. The author's use of flashbacks (titled Interlude) is brilliant and every both information provided proves useful. The writing flows and there is never any confusion. At first, I was a bit disappointed that we got to see from the bad guy's point of view (although we still didn't know who he was) but as the story went along, the opposition came to represent a dichotomy, the pulling and pushing of the forces good and evil.
The characters are extremely well constructed. They each have a distinct voice and personality and can't be confused with one another. The use of the different forms of speach to represent the different social classes was dead on and light enough that it didn't hinder the comprehension. Inspector Day and Inspector Blacker were two great characters, their experiences and personalities completing each other perfectly. I also got attached to Dr. Kingsley and his new forensic methods. But my favourite character was undeniably Constable Hammersmith. His devotion and courage made him more attractive to me than constable Pringle, who was a dandy.
I have to say that reading The Yard reminded me of The BBC's series Ripper Street. In my head, I immediately cast Inspector Day as Matthew MacFadyen and saw the Yard's headquarters as the one from the series. I think this serves to prove that Grecian's descriptions were great.
I think the only negative thing I have to say about the book is that it didn't use Inspector Day's wife to her full potential. She was somewhat involved in the investigation but I would have liked it to be bigger. This, however, doesn't diminish the awesomeness of the book at all.
I really wish they'd make a movie out of the book and I will definitely pick up the next one in the series, Black Country.
As I was reading, I wondered why the London police force was called Scotland Yard. I looked it up and it seems that this metonym for the London Metropolitan Police comes from the location of its first headquarters. From the 10th to the 12th century, the king of Scotland was required to come to London to show its subornation. The plot of land on which his residence was built came to be called Scotland Yard and the street off it was named Great Scotland Yard after it. When the police moved their headquarters there, the name stuck. The more you know!