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Publisher's Summary

Scotland Yard's Murder Squad returns, in the stunning new historical thriller from the author of the acclaimed national best seller The Yard.

The British Midlands. It's called the "Black Country" for a reason. Bad things happen there.

When members of a prominent family disappear from a coal-mining village - and a human eyeball is discovered in a bird's nest - the local constable sends for help from Scotland Yard's new Murder Squad. Fresh off the grisly 1889 murders of The Yard, Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith respond, but they have no idea what they're about to get into. The villagers have intense, intertwined histories. Everybody bears a secret. Superstitions abound. And the village itself is slowly sinking into the mines beneath it.

Not even the arrival of forensics pioneer Dr. Bernard Kingsley seems to help. In fact, the more the three of them investigate, the more they realize they may never be allowed to leave....

©2013 Alex Grecian (P)2013 Penguin Audio

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  • Story

Geat, especially if you love historical mysteries!

Fantastic narration at 1.25 speed. The story is Intriguing with Sherlock Holmes style mystery. A great listenn

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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AWESOME!!!!

The story is fantastic, the characters are well written and Toby Leonard Moore is amazing! If you liked "The Yard" you'll like this one. Mr. Grecian is a brilliant writer. He paints an extremely vivid picture that grabs the reader and doesn't let go!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Ted
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 05-02-14

Nice Writing About Not Much… Pity!

I read "The Yard' the first in this series. Liked it, enjoyed the characters, plotting, atmosphere, sense of place… you know… So I got "The Black Country", same ensemble but little of the same character. Grecain suffers from description dysfunction. That was a tad tedious in "The Yard" but with everything else going on, well okay. Here… well, I'm thinking that Grecian's a one hit wonder. Plot was reasonably similar, characters stopped growing. Some did walk-ons, like the lead detective's wife and the doctor's daughter, for no reason other than to slow things down more. Did the publisher demand that Grecian fill a specified number of pages? And the plot was … one word… "TEDIOUS".

OK, he does write description nicely, but - as they say in the theatre - when the critics start reviewing the scenery… the play's in trouble. Take a pass on this, but get "The Yard" and enjoy Grecian's one hit, huh?

Oh, and Toby Leanard Moore couldn't save this thing even though he read it reeeeely reeeeely hard.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A great sequel to THE YARD!

The Black Country is an able sequel to The Yard. It picks up several months after the events in The Yard and follows London's own Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith as they travel to an isolated mining village in the English Midlands for a brief (and, they hope, routine) investigation of a missing family feared to be the victims of murder.

Alex Grecian's strengths are creating a tangible sense of place and atmosphere - what he accomplished for post-Ripper London in The Yard he manages equally well here for the village of Blackhampton - and attending to characterization in the midst of action. The recurring characters genuinely grow, and the new characters, both primary and secondary, are three-dimensional and compelling. The crime at the heart of the mystery itself is wrenching in the best possible sense, and as in The Yard, there's a dark undercurrent of bleakness and helplessness that strikes just the right chord. Unlike in its predecessor novel, not every loose end is tied in a bow by the story's end, and I found this more authentic ending worked quite well.

What I appreciate most about this novel is how Grecian portrays the clash between the methodical rationality of emerging forensic science and modern investigative technique and legal procedure, represented by Day, Hammersmith, and Dr. Bernard Kingsley, and the evolved blend of superstition, custom, and folkways represented by the villagers of Blankhampton. The reader feels especially for those such as the schoolteacher who are caught in the middle, both educated and reasonable and yet firmly entrenched in "how things have always been done here." Once again, Grecian captures a unique moment in time regarding law enforcement, scientific thought, and emerging modern practice/process quite well.

Unexpected references to the U.S. Civil War and outstanding characterizations of children (in the best Gothic mode, nothing is more shiver-inducing and creepy than a well-portrayed child) make this novel a particular delight.

The narration is masterful.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Inconsistent

What would have made The Black Country better?

The story line was good but the way the pieces were put together was horrible. Inconsistent, unbelievable character development. The author goes to great length to describe horrific catastrophes and then the character bounces right back like nothing happened. If I could get my credit back I would!

Has The Black Country turned you off from other books in this genre?

No the first book "The Yard" was a great listen to.

Have you listened to any of Toby Leonard Moore’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Great performance - the only reason I got through the book.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Black Country?

It's not the question of too many scenes; it's the way a character would get hurt -kicked in the head with a steel boot and then able to hold a hanging man up for ever until the help arrives. Constable is killed and no follow through. The list of missteps like this goes on and on. Ariana Franklin and her Mistress of Death series is so much of the same line and so much more entertaining.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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If you loved the first book, then you'll love this

What did you love best about The Black Country?

I love the interaction between Day and Highsmith.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Inpector Day. He is one cool cat.

Which scene was your favorite?

The flash backs to the American Clivil War and Andersonville

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A very messy book compared to the first

A messy set of plots that never get going and certainly never add up to anything close to the first installment. Our two champions of justice are removed from London and placed in a small coal town with more problems than will ever be solved. The other characters and even the town for its part resists even help in moving the plot. End the end the whole world falls a part and the answers basically handed over to the main characters. The 'victims' are far from if not out right unqualified for any sort of redemption. The second plot is just ridiculous and helps nothing but to fill space.i do hope the 3rd is a better mate for the first installment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Story & Character Development

Interesting story, plausible, good story & character development. Some gore, no sex scenes. A good read that moves along - no dragging.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Black Country Lacks

I enjoyed The Yard but I found this one lackluster. I wasn't pulled into the mystery and I missed the dynamics of everyone at The Yard. I appreciate wanting to create something different but what worked well in The Yard was missing. The characters were flat and the plot was meh.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enthralling

IGreat opportunity to become further acquainted with Detective Day & Sargent Hammersmith. Will thought out story and interesting characters. Appreciate view into detecting business in 1800's.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful