Book Review: The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian

Posted February 15, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian
Genres: Mystery
on May 19, 2015
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: The Yard, The Yard, The Black Country, The Black Country , The Devil's Workshop, Lost and Gone Forever

Fourth in the Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad historical mystery thriller series revolving around the newly formed Murder Squad with the focus is on Detective Inspector Walter Day and his former partner, Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith. The story is set in London in the spring of 1890.

My Take

There’s plenty of action for everyone in The Harvest Man what with hunting down surviving children, Jack the Ripper inserting himself and threatening Day’s family, another serial killer murdering families, and compatriots being led astray.

The Harvest Man uses third person global subjective point-of-view, which means we learn the thoughts and emotions of a variety of characters, including a scary look inside the mind of an insane murderer, trapped in his parental fantasies. The people who died…the families destroyed… The way he decides a family is his or not is chance. Do they have an attic or not. It’s too easy to imagine how other serial killers could have lived the same “dreams”.

And poor Walter. It’s hard enough to have twin newborns to cope with, but Walter has his hostile in-laws making waves, hiring staff, and expressing their disdain for their son-in-law. Their judgments and interference are driving Walter crazy. It doesn’t help when Carlyle is so disrespectful of Walter when he suggests Walter leave his wife and babies. And Claire is haunted by her memories of Constable Rupert Winthrop’s murder in her home.

Poor Fiona has no clue how to behave properly in society, and now that her father has refused to allow her to help him, she’s at loose ends.

Ooh, ouch, Kingsley lets Tiffany know what he thinks of him. Kingsley also introduces new methods and tools for assessing a crime scene, including rubber gloves, no interference with a crime scene, and envelopes for clues providing a record of everything. He is quite the generous man, treating the murdered prostitutes like people and paying for their funerals. He sure does impress Blackleg!

And then that ending. Geez. Horror with a soup├žon of hope for Nevil.

The Story

It’s that murder that pulls Day away from his desk. Children who escaped the slaughter. Slaughter that will continue as the Harvest Man continues his search for his parents, removing their masks only to find he was wrong.

He’s not the only active killer, for Saucy Jack has an admirer. One that Jack coopts for his own purposes, but only one of them, for Jack is quite busy with a myriad of plans, all intended to terrify.

And Fiona gifts Hammersmith with twenty calling cards.

The Characters

The tortured and injured Detective Inspector (DI) Walter Day, the son of a valet, is one of the new detectives on the Murder Squad. He’s married to Claire Carlyle who just gave birth to twins — Winifred and Henrietta — and who loves to write nursery rhymes. Miss Harris is the new head of housekeeping. She, along with the new governess/nanny Miss Powell; cook; and, scullery maid have severely stretched Walter’s budget. Leland and Eleanor Carlyle are Claire’s wealthy, judgmental, interfering parents. Retired Inspector Augustus McKraken has volunteered for guard duty on the Day household.

Former Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith, who lives above a confectionary shop, has been fired from Scotland Yard. Nevil has an uncle Bamford who brought chaos wherever he went. Blackleg is a criminal who has aided Nevil in the past.

Scotland Yard is…
…about to move to new quarters on the Victoria Embankment. Sir Edward Bradford is the commissioner of police who insists on Day keeping to his desk. Other DIs include the jokey Blacker, the close-minded Jimmy Tiffany, and Wiggins. Sergeant Kett, one of the middlemen in the police force, liaising between constables and inspectors, and Constables John Jones and Bentley are in on the hunt. Inspector Gerard had arrested Ridgway. Molly is one of the police horses. Sarah works the Exchange. Gregory Little is a young message runner.

Dr Bernard Kingsley is the forensic examiner at the Yard. Henry Mayhew, a former street person, is Kingsley’s assistant..who’s learning. Oliver is his magpie (The Black Country, 2). Fiona Kingsley, an artist who had been helping Claire, has been sent back to her father’s home. Dr Halsted at Johns Hopkins sent Kingsley some rubber gloves.

Her Majesty’s Prison Bridewell
Bill Pycroft is a warder on the take. Adrian March, Day’s mentor, had lost his way in The Devil’s Workshop, 3; now he’s a prisoner.

The Harvest Man was but one of the prisoners who escaped in The Devil’s Workshop. Everyone but Day, March, McKraken, and Hammersmith believe Jack the Ripper, a.k.a., Saucy Jack, is dead.

Simon and Robert, an eight- and ten-year-old, are the only survivors. Seventeen-year-old Hatty and John Charles Pitt (a real jerk) are newlyweds. The Merrilows are fascinated by theatre. Their daughter, Eugenia, who used to see John Charles is now seeing Frederick who works at the museum. Their son, George, also participates in the nude tableaus. Lucy Hebron is another participant. Pritchard is their butler. George Bristol designs their sets.

Alistair Goodpenny has hearing issues and sells stationery and jewelry. He partners up with Andrew Parks of Parks and Sons, Hatters, at times for those trips to Cornwall. Hannah Parks works with her father.

Haun, Moore, and Peck are the solicitors with whom Day has been meeting at the Chalk Farm Tavern. Liz is a whore with a baby, Michael. Some of the dead hookers include Little Betty, Betty, and Alice. The Kartsphanomen is a secret society of men who don’t believe criminals can be rehabilitated. Alan Ridgway, who lives in a boardinghouse, is attempting to emulate Saucy Jack.

The Cover and Title

The cover is DARK with a fainter blackish gray of a bricked walkway heading into blackness. At the top is an info blurb in white followed by the author’s name in red. Spanning most of the cover is the title in a chalky white while at the bottom — thank you, God — we learn that this is a novel (in white) with the series information in red. Um, don’t mind those flies on the edges, they won’t brush off…

The title is the escaped, insane killer, The Harvest Man.

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