THE DEVIL'S WORKSHOP by Alex Grecian
Kirkus Star

THE DEVIL'S WORKSHOP

KIRKUS REVIEW

A historical thriller that moves quickly and surely, bringing Jack the Ripper back from the realm of nightmare to the streets of London.

Exitus probatur—the ends are justified—is the pass code into a secret society of avengers drawn from the cream of Victorian society. They, the Karstphanomen, don't think courts can deliver justice to the people of London and take matters into their own hands, treating the perpetrators of horrible crimes as they have treated their victims. Same devices, same wounds but in a state of perpetual agony. When a train derails and smashes open the wall of Bridewell Prison, four condemned murderers escape, each ready to kill again. DI Walter Day and his compatriots at Scotland Yard go on the hunt for the escapees. In the process, Jack the Ripper—Saucy Jack—is found in the catacombs near the prison, where the Karstphanomen have been treating him to their special brand of rehabilitation, and we are face to face with Grecian’s most masterful character. He's released by Cinderhouse, one of the escaped prisoners, who doesn't realize who he is. Jack is evil incarnate, a haunting killer who proceeds to turn his underground cell into the Devil’s Workshop, dishing out punishment to his former captors. 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: “Jack lowered himself slowly to his knees with a grunt and bent over the unconscious man. He brushed his hair out of his face and sniffed the man’s face, squeezed his mouth open and smelled his breath, sucked in the air from his lungs.” That cinematic scene is horrifying, and the shock of Jack’s actions gains momentum page after page to the end.

Grecian’s novel is the third in his Scotland Yard's Murder Squad series (The Black Country, 2013, etc.). 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—again.

Pub Date: May 20th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-399-16643-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2014




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