The Black Country : Scotland Yard's Murder Squad

  • by Alex Grecian
  • Narrated by Toby Leonard Moore
  • Series: Scotland Yard's Murder Squad
  • 10 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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....

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Amy "Say something about yourself!"

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.


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- Clint Loomis

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-21-2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio