Books

Grecian’s latest a good addition to Victorian mysteries

“Lost and Gone Forever” by Alex Grecian (Putnam, 375 pages, $27)

Inspector Walter Day arrived several years ago in “The Yard” – as in Scotland Yard – on the trail of Jack the Ripper but finding plenty of other sordid killings to solve. At the end of the last installment, “The Harvest Man,” Day had gotten even closer to catching Jack, but then abruptly disappeared and hasn’t been seen for a year.

Of course, since Day is the hero of this series, he’s not dead – no spoiler here; it’s in the opening chapter of the book – and he manages to escape from his captor, Jack the Ripper himself. A year in captivity took its toll on Day’s mind in particular, as well as on his friends and family, who never stopped looking for him. Day’s wife, Claire, has never accepted that her husband is dead, despite pressure from her father to leave London and move back home. And Day’s former comrade, Nevil Hammersmith, opened his own detective agency with the sole purpose of searching for Day.

But other things are afoot in gritty Victorian London, including the opening of a grand department store, the mysterious murders of well-placed men, and a pair of professional assassins summoned from abroad. These parallel threads in the story – some loose ends from the previous books and some new ones – come together by the end, but not without quite a bit of blood and gore.

The series is fascinating from the viewpoint of historical detail and the development of modern police procedure, and the books have interesting plots and fast pacing. Enjoyment of “Lost and Gone Forever” doesn’t depend on having read the previous books in the series, but this is a series best read in order, and the latest book is a worthy addition to it.

Lisa McLendon teaches journalism at the University of Kansas. Reach her at lisa.mclendon@gmail.com.

Alex Grecian reading and book-signing

Who: Alex Grecian, author of the Scotland Yard Murder Squad series

What: Reading and book-signing

When: 6 p.m. May 23

Where: Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas

How much: Free

For more information, call 316-682-1181.

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