Another question I am often asked, or ask myself, is whether I prefer “current” mysteries, set more or less in the here and now, or period mysteries, a la Conan Doyle or Christie. And the answer is . . . it depends. When I’m feeling frazzled or stressed – basically my life for the past several years — I tend to the more comfortable, period Christie-type piece. When I was in college, I worked in the library, pre-cataloguing new Russian acquisitions. But I also wandered the stacks when I was procrastinating and went down the shelves with Agatha Christie. One look at my Kindle will show that I have returned to her, re-reading most of my favorites. I enjoy the formula of these books.
Recently, I’ve read a few new “period” mysteries, enjoying some more than others. Alex Grecian’s, The Yard, is set in Victorian London, just after the Jack the Ripper cases. It follows the creation of a Murder Squad, a group of twelve detectives who do nothing but investigate murder. Grecian’s London has none of the quaint comforts of Christie’s English countryside. But, it is worth the read nonetheless. Grecian’s portrayal of London’s gritty underside is so seemingly accurate and compelling, you’d think he had been there. Inspector Day and his feisty wife, Claire, are enjoyable, central characters and I will likely read future installments about the Murder Squad.