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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Yard - Alex Grecian

So what do we have here then.
A band of policemen - some experienced, some wet behind the ears - who in the aftermath of the failed attempt to apprehend Jack the Ripper are battling general mistrust from the public, social issues of the time, a brace of cases that may, or may not be, linked, and on top of that lot simultaneously attempting to embrace the new kid on the block that is forensic criminology.
Quite a lot be be going on with.
That's 'The Yard' in a nutshell I suppose.

To expand on that, the premise is actually a very good one, and the debut novel from Alex Grecian is as enjoyable a romp in the crime/thriller genre as you could find.
It's not high literature, nor historically accurate, but neither does it pretend to be.
The authors background of working within the graphic novel world is very obviously openly on display, and with lashings of blood and a bucketful of gore this is a visceral pulp fiction novel that wears its entertainment credentials on its sleeve.
It's one of those 'it does what it says on the tin' novels, and a damn good one at that.

As is the norm with debuts there has however been some criticism.
Not from me I hasten to add.
The main one is that the language that is occasionally used is out of time and place.
Especially the American phrases that have slipped into the dialogue.
The other complaint that rears its head is that the book itself is heavy on the amount of plots that are simultaneously happening at once.
Both are relevant, but forgiveable.
To touch on the first, the author is American, and apart from being geographically on the other side of the world from the subject matter, he has also missed it by one hundred and twenty four years.
I personally consider that enough of a reason for the odd modern Americanism in the prose, and those who maintain that it's a larger problem than it is are probably the anally retentive sort that probably shouldn't be picking this sort of book off the shelves anyway.
The second swipe about the overloading on the story aspect is also an accurate criticism, but I would draw far short at describing it as a problem.

There's of course the introduction to the main characters, and their back stories to be told.
Then there's the main plot where the protagonist isn't a master criminal, but a damaged man who jumps from one crime to another with nary a regard for the consequences of each of his actions, and additionally there are two sub plots that rattle along in tandem with the main tale.
Busy, busy, busy really.
Relentlessly so in fact.
So while it does have a great deal going on I'm not really sure what could have been left out.
Drop a sub plot and focus more heavily on introducing the characters and it would have lost some pace.
A pace that in itself is kept consistent through out, and one that barely leaves any room for the story to take a breath.
I fail to see how that is a problem though.
It just rattles along in fine style.
These small issues are ultimately nothing to really write home about, and instead of being put off I'm already keen to hear what the characters are going to get up to next.
It has been one of those books that I would have loved to have sat down at its conclusion only to immediately pick up the next in the series.

With Detective Inspector Day, Constable Hammersmith and Dr Kingsley already gelling together under the watchful eye of the newly appointed Commissioner Edward, the second book in the series will undoubtedly provide us with a very nice little blood splattered sojourn onto the streets of the nations capital again.
I'm definitely looking forward to it.

(The next book in the series is called 'The Black Country' and will be with us for the summer.)

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