cover image The Black Country

The Black Country

Alex Grecian. Putnam, $26.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-399-15933-6

Set in 1890, Grecian’s startling and spooky sequel to The Yard (2012) charts the efforts of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad to locate a missing married couple and their toddler in Britain’s industrial Midlands. In the village of Blackhampton, Insp. Walter Day and his team discover more than one mystery: a girl finds an eyeball under a tree, scores of townspeople are stricken with an unexplained plague, and a hideous figure is lurking in the woods with a gun. Battling local terror and superstition, the squad must also contend with the town’s physical collapse into the mines beneath it. Grecian’s bold melding of horror with historical elements more than compensates for the dramatic overkill at the end. The novel’s varied relationships balance pathos with humor and point up lessons on human responsibility—on what we owe to those with whom we’re connected. The nascent bond between Day and Sgt. Nevil Hammersmith is especially appealing, hinting at many rich developments to come. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (May)