The fourth in a series of historical thrillers about the squad of detectives formed to rid London of Jack the Ripper.
Detective Walter Day is still recovering from injuries inflicted on him by Saucy Jack—Jack the Ripper—in the previous book, The Devil’s Workshop (2014). His wife has given birth to twin girls and his in-laws have moved in to help with the household. Day’s home is used as a staging ground for the novel, as one by one the characters we've met previously in the series appear to check on Walter or help with the babies. On the streets of London, the Harvest Man is now the scourge of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad; Jack the Ripper is either dead or has gone quiet. The Harvest Man is a thoroughly disturbing character who subdues his victims, always husband and wife, with ether and removes the skin from their faces in order to find his own lost parents beneath the “masks” they wear. This seemingly macabre premise feels a step removed, the horror never really taking hold. The Harvest Man only provides background noise to the real villain lurking somewhere in the shadows of these pages. Yet when Jack reappears, stalking Detective Day and targeting his family in order to draw Day into the twisted game he plays, Jack too seems diluted, toned down. He remains mysterious, a supreme manipulator, a murderer who stalks not in bloodlust but as an intellectual exercise, but feels here like filler—a way to bridge the previous books in the series to the next one.
Grecian has the chops to create a novel that engages and disturbs and has proved it before. Not here.