Victorian London is a cesspool of crime, and Scotland Yard has only 12 detectives - known as “The Murder Squad” - to investigate thousands of murders every month. Created after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure to capture Jack the Ripper, The Murder Squad suffers rampant public contempt. They have failed their citizens. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own... one of the 12....
When Walter Day, the squad’s newest hire, is assigned the case of the murdered detective, he finds a strange ally in the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, Dr. Bernard Kingsley. Together they track the killer, who clearly is not finished with The Murder Squad.... but why?
Filled with fascinating period detail, and real historical figures, this spectacular debut in a new series showcases the depravity of late Victorian London, the advent of criminology, and introduces a stunning new cast of characters sure to appeal to fans of The Sherlockian and The Alienist.
©2012 Alex Grecian (P)2012 Penguin Audio
First off, why over 100 chapters, plus several "interludes". Author with ADHD?
I give this book overall 4/5 stars for the multitude of interesting characters, multiple intertwining storylines and good pacing. I had to take 1 off for annoying anachronisms and some heavy-handedness in the writing.
The time is 1888 Victorian London, when the Scotland Yard detectives are facing bad PR after not solving the Ripper case and their small team is tasked with 10,000 disappearances a year in the city. A fellow detective is murdered, and they want to provide "closure" for his family. Closure? Did they really say that in 1888? Did they use the term "forensic technology"?? And so on. And most people familiar with Victorian London have heard of Henry Mayhew, so why confuse readers with a half-witted character of the same name (but not the same social researcher and writer)? The real Mayhew died in 1887. Strange choices.
The Hammersmith and Day detective characters are strong enough that we may see a sequel featuring them, but I hope they won't discover DNA or blood spatter analysis ahead of their time.
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
Set in London in the late Victorian era after Scotland Yard had signally failed to capture Jack the Ripper, this story of a warped killer, a body found in a chimney and a detective's body found in a trunk at a railway station is both interesting and frustrating.
First I had no problem with the narration. Toby Leonard Moore did an excellent job separating out the various character's voices. He did women's voices quite well in my opinion.
The one who fell down a bit was the author. There's a pretty long discussion on the Amazon product page which addresses some of the problems. It's spoilerish, beware.
I thought some of the characters were well written. It was the plotting and the lack of historical research that would cause me annoyance. The plotting lacked focus. The end of the mystery was not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. It wasn't unsatisfying in a literary/artistic manner. I was just left scratching my head and wondering about why certain things had been included when they eventually didn't even arise to the level of a red herring. They were just fillers.
Aside from factual forensic anachronisms the author has the wife of a Scotland Yard inspector suggesting that a man call her Clare within minutes of having him show up unannounced and alone at her front door. This happens again with another (male) character asking a female character he has just met to call him Mike within minutes of meeting. That just won't wash. It's also more distracting than whether or not the correct substance was used to raise latent finger prints. Oh, and the hospital scene with the patient who had his throat slashed? That was not only just gross, it was also medically impossible.
I would give this author another chance but I think he needs to work on plotting and research.
Narrative makes the world go round.
I love victoriana-pulp recreations and enjoy large doses of even mediocre formula stuff. This was just too grisly, anachronistic and plodding, with weak dialogue and windy speeches-- made worse by the breathy narrator - Is he even British? Was he holding his nose as he read this one?
It's ann perry paced, without her charm. I put up with grisly in crime novels if other elements make the listen worthwhile and IF the gristle is necessary for the story - here it seemed part of the formula, thrown in like seasoning according to a recipe.
This screams first novel - which usually doesn't put me off a series if there is promise in plot, character atmosphere or good dialogue, but I won't rush to download the next in this series. Interesting (I didn't say well-developed) characters and Victorian verisimilitude (second hand from other novels?) are the only strengths here. I endured to the end only for tidbits about evolution of the Yard and cameos of historical figures. For me this scored very low on the ratio of listening pleasure/hours yardstick.
Say something about yourself!
Imagine a Sherlock Holmes mystery in which Holmes never appears, and the weary Inspector Lestrades and Gregsons must soldier on as best they can to solve their cases on their own, and you have The Yard.
This compelling novel accomplished everything I'd hoped. There's a clear sense of the challenges (in public relations as much as actual detective practice) faced by Scotland Yard in the wake of the Jack the Ripper murders. There's a well-researched sense of place in the descriptions of London, and especially the East End. The plot emphasizes the turning-points experienced during this unique moment in history, from the evolving understandings of mental illness to the first steps in modern forensic science. Most of all, this mystery -- or series of mysteries -- delivers sympathetic, well-drawn characters who represent a variety of different walks of life and habits of thought and degrees of power/powerlessness. Knowing "whodunit" early on was a bonus for me, so I could focus on the details of characterization, setting, and theme. If I could make any criticism of this lovely, atmospheric work, it would be that some of the loose threads ended up too neatly tied at the end. That's a small quibble indeed. Anyone who fancies a gaslit, Gothic tale very self-aware of its unique moment in intellectual history -- unencumbered by much of the tedious romance-as-window-dressing seen in many contemporary mysteries set in Victorian times -- likely will enjoy this as much as I did.
Which came first... the books or the glasses?
I really enjoyed this book. The plot(s) was very good and the narrator did a wonderful job. I stayed up until 4am to listen to the last several hours to find out what happened. I have a feeling there will be a sequel with several of the characters returning. I hope so. I would download and listen if there is. I recommend this audiobook.
As a fan of historical fiction I expected to like this book a lot more. All the pieces are there but they never quite joined up into a suspenseful tale. I spoil nothing by saying the killer was revealed way too early in the book and was so stupid that I actually was a bit embarrassed it took so long to catch him. The book also suffered from an over abundance of side plots and too much ultimately pointless “forensic science.” Only the likability of main characters kept it uneasily afloat. I think I will go read The Alienist by Carr again to remind myself of how this book could have been done the right way.
The Alienist, the Anatomy of Murder, White City
Yes, but also a book to savor at leisure since a book like this does not come around very often.
More Victorian Era mysteries that are not romantic fantasies and are not formula based. More like this! I get annoyed with the female hero that seems to be always ahead of her time and always outsmarts the stupid men. Too formula and predictable and too numerous. I want a plausible but exciting and intellectually stimulating book like this. Very interesting and transported the reader to my favorite time period. Great story.
It's always a bad sign when a story requires amazing coincidences to work out - and this one piles them on top of each other until my eyes hurt from rolling so often. Too bad, because the premise and characters were pretty good. Hopefully the author will get better with more experience - I may check out the next one in the series before I give up entirely.
Scotland Yard seems like no big deal these days, but in 1889 London, after a reign of terror by Jack The Ripper, something needed to be done about the increased publics panic with murderers in this huge city. The murder Squad was started with twelve men who were in charge of solving all the murders in London. Unfortunately, the next big case involves the murder of one of these particular policeman. His body was found stuffed in a trunk, with few clues evident to how he got there.
Inspector Day is relatively new to the force, but his powers of observation and detecting instincts cause him to be put in charge of this case. He's befriended and helped by Dr Kingsley, who becomes the force's first forensic pathologist. Most of Dr Kingsley's ideas are revolutionary--like dusting for people's fingerprints. Though everyone isn't completely convinced of the uniqueness of these lines and swirls on people's fingers, his idea proves to be useful. Children, the homeless, chimney sweeps, and workhouses also come into play in this wonderfully involved story of the early Murder Squad.
The characters and story line are uniquely blended to create tension and suspense in this first of the Murder Squad Mysteries. I really enjoyed the writing style of these mixed mysteries too, as information was given close to a solution before it created more questions. Wonderfully done book!
I couldn't wait to find another mystery by Alex Grecian, but then found out this was his first. The narrator is one of the best I have heard to date. I loved a period point of view of early forensics and police work, even down to the realization that officers should only travel in pairs. The only reason I didn't give five stars is due to some of the side stories that I could have done without.
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