Summary from the publisher:
Victorian London is a cesspool of crime, and Scotland Yard has only twelve detectives—known as “The Murder Squad”—to investigate countless 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 twelve . . .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?
This book first came to my attention via a lovely ad in Shelf Awareness, and I was immediately intrigued. I’ve always been fascinated by the early days of the police force, be it Scotland Yard or New York’s finest (and if you are interested in the latter, you must read the fantastic The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye), and this had the added interest of being set directly after the Ripper murders, when London was still reeling and morale at the Yard was extremely low. By the time I got to the part about a serial killer targeting police, I was sold.
And this book delivers. Grecian really captured the ambiance of Victorian London, from the wealthy neighborhoods, to the underbelly of the East End, to the rundown dwellings of the underpaid members of the Murder Squad. He also gave a great sense of the public’s attitude towards the police and how that contempt led the murderer to undertake a sort of vigilante justice. But the most fascinating part, for me, was watching the Murder Squad solve the case without the methods we take for granted, such as fingerprinting, which, at that point, was not an accepted science, and the sequestering of evidence—there was a moment where someone almost made off with the murder weapon that had me on the edge of my seat.
The characters are also absolutely winning. There was a fearful moment at the beginning where Day and Hammersmith’s paths felt slightly divergent, but Grecian brought them together masterfully, and I really loved watching them come into their own. Day, Hammersmith, and pathologist Dr. Kingsley make a great team that I will happily follow through future cases.
This was a solid debut mystery that had me riveted all the way through. I can’t wait for the next installment in the series!