The Yard by Alex Grecian

The Yard is Alex Grecian’s first historical crime novel. The novel takes place in London in 1889, soon after Jack the Ripper stopped killing prostitutes. The Ripper is not part of the story but he lingers a collective consciousness among Londoners and they now expect the worst.

One or Two Killers?

Two nasty murders are discovered. In one case they find a Scotland Yard detective dismembered in a trunk with his mouth sown together. In the other case a bearded man’s throat has been cut. Walter Day, a newbie, is assigned to the cases. His colleagues are neither impressed nor helpful, but constable Hammersmith is a loyal hard-working police that helps him out. Day also gets help from Dr. Kingsley, a private medical examiner. Kingsley turns out to be an invaluable resource, and he shows them new techniques that may help them in their search, e.g. fingerprints.


Grecian switches between Day, Smith, Kingsley and the italicized killer. If Jack the Ripper is a mysterious figure, then this killer is more real. He is a mentally ill man who desperately tries to create a family while keeping a façade as a respectable business man.


The atmosphere is bleak. It is a time where some parts of London were incredibly poor, dirty and miserable. There are prostitutes, homeless people, and drunks. Looking to survive or out of greed, people exploit each other in different ways. The police profession is anything but glamorous. The stench follows you inside. We are at the lower echelon of society, middle class at the highest. There is no romantic haze, although there is hope among the people.


If you compare this novel to other historical crime novels it is average. It is somewhat confusing and you have to struggle a bit to keep up. The characters are not groundbreaking, but rather bordering on stereotypical, but they are easy to like. Most important, however, is that the novel is exciting and gives a visual, albeit unpleasant, picture of London during the Victorian era.

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