You don’t need to read the three books in the Yard series that precede The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian however, this one is more difficult to read than the previous one, The Devil’s Workshop.
In The Devil’s Workshop, Inspector Walter Day and his Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith are tortured to the point of death by Jack the Ripper. That wasn’t easy to read. The crimes in The Harvest Man go deeper.
The Harvest Man is bone chilling from the start. We know that he is wearing a plague mask and nobody wears a plague mask late summer 1890. The Black Death peaked from 1347 to 1351 in Europe.
Wearing such a mask outside of theatre, is foreboding. And so we know that the couple on the very first page will not survive.
In itself, that is not unexpected. Grecian, after all, writes about Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad. But there is expecting a death count and knowing that the victims die in agony. But their agony is not just described to us. It is told by the victims themselves often, as their last thoughts.
If this isn’t enough for Inspector Day to deal with, there are several murdered women, and even one of their own is found murdered. It looks like Jack is back.
Grecian’s series about Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad counts five books published between 2012 – 2016. The very first one, The Yard, is reviewed here.
I love this series. The developing characters, the historical settings, the relationship between Day and Hammersmith, and the amazingly talented Fiona Kingsley and her father Dr. Kingsley, who drags the Yard book by book into the world of forensic sciences, never disappoint.
In this book, we meet a few new characters. And it is those new characters and their experiences that make this book darker than the previous three in the series.
From the beginning, it is clear that the Harvest Man has somehow been separated from his parents. Something terrifying must have happened to his family as he searches for them completely convinced that if he lifts people’s masks, he will find their true faces and in doing so, will be reunited with his parents.
Figuratively, he is right. We all wear a mask. We pose as brave even when we hurt inside only to lift our masks, show our true feelings and pain, when we feel confident we can do so. The Harvest Man does this all literally.
In his search for his family, he makes various victims. The first couple for example, were, of course, not his parents but they were the parents to Robert and Simon. These two small children witnessed what happened to their parents but managed to escape. Day and Hammersmith are thus hunting a killer while trying to find two terrified children, still battling health problems due to Jack’s torture, and if that isn’t enough, Hammersmith is no longer a Sergeant, and Day has trouble at the homefront.
With all these problems piling up, we find beautiful moments where Day gains the boys’ trust, where the older brother shields his baby brother from harm that he cannot possibly understand at that young age, and where the courage of a very young wife leads to a break in the case.
The Harvest Man is well written. The pace is good, the chapters well-spaced, and the plot unfolds in a natural but increasingly dark manner to the point that you have goose-bumps all over.
The Harvest Man ends with several cliff hangers. This is book number four in the series so in book number five, entitled Lost and Gone Forever, we will hopefully see all loose ends tied up.
Highly recommended reading.
My other book reviews are here.