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The Devil's Workshop: A Novel of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad Hardcover – May 20, 2014
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HM Prison Bridewell has an occupant named Jack buried alive deep within its bowels. Every few days, men visit him to reenact his crimes upon women on Jack’s own flesh—not enough to kill, just enough to agonize. A locomotive smashes into the prison one day in 1890, and several prisoners, including Jack, escape. The Murder Squad, originally formed to find Jack the Ripper, is after another ripper named Jack. Or is it the same one? This third in Grecian’s Murder Squad series again delivers a hard-hitting historical thriller bursting with deft characterizations (especially of series hero Detective Inspector Walter Day) and the author’s knowledge of Victoriana. For example, part of the action here hinges on the tortures perpetrated by members of an actual Victorian secret society who believed in fitting the punishment to the crime. Tension builds as the escaped prisoners start a revenge murder spree and as Day’s own pregnant wife becomes a possible Ripper victim. Grecian is also the author of the graphic-novel series, Proof, which was named one of NPR’s best books of the year in 2009 --Connie Fletcher
Praise for The Devil's Workshop
“Grecian has a remarkable way of pulling the reader in and down, into the swirling dark. . . We do not merely read Grecian's books; we participate in them. In the end, we emerge from this tale dazed and awed, as though we, too, have been toiling in the black womb of London's underground. We have glimpsed as through a mirror darkly the bloom of evil, the birth of destruction. We have met the Devil.”—Huffington Post
“Anyone searching for a novel chocked full of blood-letting and guilty pleasures should look no further . . . This is a skillfully constructed, very satisfying trek into a shadowy netherworld, where light is as sparsely parceled out aboveground as it is below.”—Stratton Magazine
“Delivers a hard-hitting historical thriller bursting with deft characterizations and the author’s knowledge of Victoriana.” —Booklist
“A historical thriller that moves quickly and surely, bringing Jack the Ripper back from the realm of nightmare to the streets of London . . . The novel propels readers through a nonstop chase for the escaped murderers by the police of Scotland Yard, who have no idea that Jack the Ripper, their most famous adversary, is also on the loose. Jack is the real show here, written with chilling insight by Grecian . . . Justice and punishment are the deeper themes, and the characterization is superb. Saucy Jack may be one of the most disturbing characters ever written on the page.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Grecian has penned the Murder Squad’s best outing yet! Devotees are sure to be delighted, but Grecian’s latest would also make a satisfying introduction to the series. Recommended for historical thriller enthusiasts, crime buffs, Ripperologists, and Anglophiles.”—Library Journal
Praise for The Black Country
“A startling and spooky sequel [with a] bold melding of horror with historical elements. The nascent bond between Walter Day and Sgt. Nevil Hammersmith is especially appealing, hinting at many rich developments to come.” -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A first-rate thriller. Whether you read the tale in the dark night of winter or the haze of a summer sun, be prepared for the chill. The days are dark in Black Country.” -The Huffington Post
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Top Customer Reviews
The writing for Jack was so bad that I tried to convince myself that by the end of the book, Adrian March would spring up out of the watercloset toilet of the Metropolitan Police Station and scream "That's not the real Jack the Ripper!! I fooled you!" then everything would make sense all of a sudden and it turns out that "Jack" was just a copy-cat killer. If that had been the case, I'd have given this book probably four stars.
All this is sad, however, because Grecian can write splendid domestic interactions and friendship and can somehow make detective work seem less boring, yet with the addition of Jack, I actually skipped those chapters of him in it because to me, watching what the antagonist does completely ruins the mystery of who this guy is and what's his purpose, then 'surprising' the reader when he (spoiler alert) meets Walter Day. I mean, Jack the Ripper is an infamous murderer and I consider it rude to try to climb into the brain of one and say "This is legit how he acted: I was there, trust me" because everyone has a different interpretation of how he might have acted. I like to think that most murderers act similar to Hannibal Lector and keep it composed through day-to-day interactions (pun not intended) and maybe show a little of their true self while they kill. Perhaps I can better appreciate a sane-looking killer than a wild one because then it says they kill for a purpose and "gracing them with death" is not a good enough excuse to kill people. The victim must have done something in order to trigger the bloodthirst of the killer and it's clear to me here that Grecian wanted to simply shock readers with detailed descriptions of gore and have Jack give pet names to others. That doesn't make them creepy, that just makes me want to close the book and cut the pages to form some type of art piece.
It took me several weeks to finish this story due to the excruciating Jack the Ripper bits being included. And when I finished, let's just say I wasn't about to stand up and recommend it to everyone I knew.
Oddly enough, however, the rest of the book was fine and well written. I'm just disappointed. When Grecian gets around to publishing his next installation to the series, I'm going to wait around for in-depth reviews and hope that my theory of False Jack are true.
The Murder Squad is facing the most shocking case of its existence. It is 1890 in London, and four vicious murderers have escaped from prison. Walter, Nevil, and their associates need to find the convicts before they can carry out a plan of vengeance toward a member of the Murder Squad. Then, not to give too much away, another notorious figure gets involved. This turns out to be Jack the Ripper, and the story evolves from there.
Mr. Grecian has an enjoyable style of writing, his characters are interesting, and his plots move right along. I recommend The Devil’s Workshop and his entire series about the Scotland Yard Murder Squad.
Day and Hammersmith seem like shadows of themselves, especially compared to earlier entries in the series. Neither one presents as terribly competent, even though they are supposed to be among the best in their field. Dr. Kingsley and Fiona do not have very meaty roles in this book, and there is too much Claire and the neverending pregnancy for my tastes. I, personallu, found the plot rather disjointed, jumping from point to point to point, with seemingly very little to connect these points in a cohesive manner (other readers may disagree).
I preferred the first two in the series, and would recommend this for a reader that is not bothered by the flaws, mentioned above, and the gore, or for one that simply must read every book in a series.