Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Book Review: 'Lost and Gone Forever' by Alex Grecian

It is advisable to read Alex Grecian’s Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad series in order, since each novel picks up where the previous one leaves off. “Lost and Gone Forever” includes many of the characters we have come to know so well: Nevil Hammersmith, a former policeman, spends countless hours searching for his missing friend, Walter Day; Claire, Walter’s steadfast wife, writes poems and stories for her children that are later published; Leland Carlyle is Claire’s wealthy, arrogant, and overbearing father; Dr. Bernard Kingsley, a pathologist, has mentored his daughter, Fiona, in the healing arts; and our villain, Jack the Ripper, is a charming fiend who spreads fear and mayhem wherever he goes.

When we last saw Walter Day, he was in Jack’s clutches, and the detective’s future looked grim. For his own perverted reasons, Jack decides to let Walter go, but when the young man is released, he has forgotten who he is. Jack, on the other hand, lands a good job and keeps doing what he does best—murdering and dismembering anyone whom he considers a threat or an annoyance. The plot is overly cluttered and has farcical elements interspersed with scenes of blood and gore. This time around, someone hires a pair of eccentric murderers-for-hire; a gorgeous and exotic new department store, Plumm’s Emporium, opens for business and is destined to play a central role in the drama; Fiona waits for the clueless Nevil to notice that she is a grown woman who is in love with him; and Hatty Pitt, Nevil’s employee, is eager to do some sleuthing of her own. Grecian imbues his writing with the wonderful fogbound atmosphere of Victorian London, and his prose is enlivened by droll dialogue and fanciful touches.

One of the reasons fans enjoy Grecian is that he does not stick to a predictable template. Jack the Ripper is not always a snarling monster. He can be mesmerizing (sometimes literally) and is a master manipulator who frequently convinces people to do his bidding. Neither Neville nor his colleagues find it easy to outwit this clever and calculating adversary. Unfortunately, everyone we care about is destined to suffer physical and emotional pain before the final page is turned. It is too bad that the conclusion is so chaotic, with everyone gathering in one place in a frenzy. In spite of its over-the-top finale, “Lost and Gone Forever,” with its mixture of melancholy and whimsy, is fast-paced, chilling, and occasionally hilarious.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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