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The Black Country

(Scotland Yard's Murder Squad #2)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  5,296 ratings  ·  723 reviews
Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad returns.

The British Midlands. It’s called the “Black Country” for a reason. Bad things happen there.

When members of a prominent family disappear from a coal-mining village—and a human eyeball is discovered in a bird’s nest—the local constable sends for help from Scotland Yard’s new Murder Squad. Fresh off the grisly 1889 murders of The Yard, In
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 21st 2013 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published January 1st 2013)
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Kelli Mccain This answer may be coming extremely late. I haven't opened this account in quite sometime. I found both books to be fine in terms of passing time and…moreThis answer may be coming extremely late. I haven't opened this account in quite sometime. I found both books to be fine in terms of passing time and intended them to be used a leisurely read.

Both had a handful of characters , almost too many, to keep straight in my opinion. I think it just depends on how much you're hoping to get out of the book. Not sure if that helps at all. (less)
Elyse To answer your actual question, yes you can read these out of order but you probably shouldn't as they are a series. But I started with #3 because I…moreTo answer your actual question, yes you can read these out of order but you probably shouldn't as they are a series. But I started with #3 because I got it as an ARC. Then I read #1 and now I'm reading this one, #2, almost done. When I read #3 I felt like it was a contained story. But I'd rather read a series, any series, in order.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,296 ratings  ·  723 reviews

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Tim Hicks
Mar 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
I liked The Yard, and expected another good one with the same coppers. Nope. This is a stinker.

This one has a ludicrous gothic plot, full of cardboard characters and more deaths than Hamlet.

Poor old Hammersmith - Grecian tells us over and over and over again how H never looks after himself, then for the second half of the book treats the guy like Beaker from the Muppet Show.

A key character vanishes halfway through and isn't missed or even mentioned.

The bad guy tracks a character for years, i
Miss M
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rawhead and Bloody Bones
Steals naughty children from their homes,
Takes them to his dirty den,
And they are never seen again.

So starts the story in the Black Country (That’s the West midlands UK!) with Inspector Day & Sergeant Hammersmith of the Yard sent to the coal mining village of Blackhampton C1890 to investigate the disappearance of a husband, Wife & youngest child of a family. The 2 MC’s keep the story flowing as characters (suspects) are introduced, we also have Dr Kingsley & g
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Having enjoyed Grecian's previous outing 'The Yard' (though it's not a patch on Ripper Street, I had relatively high hopes for the further adventures of Inspector Walter Day. This time, Day and his trusty Sergeant Hammersmith have been called in by local Constable Grimes to investigate the mystery of the Price family. Sounds clear enough? However, as another commenter on here has already noted, how much plot can be crammed into one narrative? (which in itself begs the question what has happened ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Great googly moogly! How much plot can you cram into one book? In the case of "The Black Country", far too much. Grecian's first book, "The Yard", suffered from overplotting, but not to this extent. At the risk of giving too much away, this book has five separate murders (with four different murderers), an epidemic, a thunderous blizzard (reminiscent of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's prose), a building fire, and several mine tunnel collapses...many of these happening simultaneously.

Oddly, the numerous p
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is 1890 and Scotland Yards recently created Murder Squad is back to lend its skills outside of London this time. Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith have been called to the village of Blackhampton in what is referred to as the Black Country of England, the coal-mining region. Scotland Yard has only allotted two days for the pair to clear up a case of a missing husband, wife, and child from a prominent family. They not only have to contend with a suspicious, uncooperative commu ...more
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Black Country follows on from Alex Grecian’s brilliant debut novel The Yard (which you should certainly pick up if you have not read it yet). Whilst it is not necessary to have read the prior novel I do recommend doing so. The books tell two completely different stories but there are aspects which carry over from the first book into the second, references which you will only truly understand if you have read the first book.

The Black Country continues with the best characters as they deal wit
Oct 29, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the second book in this series. I like the characters,the settings and the plot. I look forward to more books in this series. I was really lucky to have had a chance to get this book before it came out. Alex you rock can't wait for more!
Not as good as the first book in my opinion but still a good read with these great characters and atmospheric setting!
3-1/2 stars. As much as I hate to let the narrator affect my rating, I really struggled this time. Half star deduction. It took me a while to get into the story but once I did, I enjoyed it.
Ashley Marsh
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2018
This was... Interesting. While the first 90% of the book really grabbed and kept my attention, the last 10%, in which all the answers are revealed, REALLY seemed to drag on. I like the series and the characters, and I've so far found the mysteries intriguing, but I never read murder mysteries, so I don't have a lot to compare this to. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I'm hoping for something greater in the next few books.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In this second book in the Murder Squad series, the duo of Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith are sent to the coal mining village of Blackhampton after local constable requested assistance from Scotland Yard to help when a prominent couple and their young son go missing. Grimes, the local constable is further alarmed because a mysterious sickness is spreading through the town and a young girl has discovered an eyeball in a bird’s nest.

When Day and Nevil arrive in BlackHampton, t
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
In this second installment of Mr. Grecian’s new series Inspectors Hammersmith and Day travel to Blackhampton. It is known as the “Black country” because of the coal mining, but also because bad things seem to happen there. The local constable has reached out to The Yard for help in solving the disappearance of a prominent local family and the mysterious appearance of an eyeball in a bird’s nest.

Yes, I am always saying I do not have time to become invested in yet another “series” and then I go a
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
A little girl has discovered a human eyeball in a bird's nest in the coal mining village of Blackhampton, where a local couple and their little son have disappeared. Baffled and alarmed, the local constable summons assistance from Scotland Yard, which assigns Inspector Walter Day and his sergeant, Nevil Hammersmith, to the case. They duo arrives by train in the midst of a blizzard, but the deepening white blanket can't disguise the grit and grime of the village, where houses are actually sinkin ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
It's been some time since I read the first in this series so it took me a little while to remember the specifics about each character. This wasn't hard to do, mostly because there isn't immense depth to the characters, but there also isn't much character development involved so even once I remember who was who I didn't feel like I had gained much insight. I love the quick verbal exchange that happens for the majority of the dialogue - all very short, sweet, to the point, and offhandedly humorous ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shockingly awful. I only struggled through to the end to see just how badly he could further mangle British history. He seems to honestly believe there were still wolves in England in the 19th century (note to Mr Grecian, the last one in Britain was killed in Scotland in the 17th century!). Despite setting this in the Black Country he could only find one bit of local dialect and threw it in twice, at least once putting it in the mouth of a character who would be unlikely to use it (I really can' ...more
Tracy Pierce
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the second novel with Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith of Scotland Yards Murder Squad. It's 1889 and the pair are sent to a coal mining town to find some missing villagers. Although I don't really like murder mysteries that involve children I guess there are good and bad children out there. I do like all the main characters in this series including the forensics doctor
Bernard Kingsley. If you like Martha Grimes books you might like these. Alex Grecian has a good way of
Rebecca McPhedran
This was a pretty good follow up to The Yard. Inspector Day and his Sergeant have been called to a small mining town to find a young family. Once they get there, the town seems on edge and jumpy. The innkeeper is superstitious, and there are strangers among the villagers. They are faced with many twists and turns in their pursuit of the truth. For awhile, you are unsure of where the family is, but then everything falls into place. A good read.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, 2016-reads
I read book one in 2014. Then it took some time after I got back to the series.
This is a book with a wide range of ratings.
I'm fan of Walter Day and Nevil Hammersmith and for me they did not disappoint me.
I enjoyed the plot, the settings, and the characters.

Fortunately there are more books in the series.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
In an earlier review I wrote about that disappointing moment when you realize an author you really like has written something that isn’t all that good. I made the comparison to other arts, mentioning in passing R.E.M.’s 2004 turd of an album, Around the Sun. And that pains me, because if I had to choose a favorite band, R.E.M. would be it. They’ve soundtracked my life pretty consistently from the time Green was released when I was but a wee lad in high school, and in that time it felt like they ...more
Cathy Cole
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
First Line: It was an unusual egg.

The little girl who discovers a human eyeball in a bird's nest sparks fear in a small mining village in the black country of the English Midlands due in no small part to the fact that three members of a prominent family have disappeared. The local constable knows that he's in over his head, so he sends for help to Scotland Yard's new Murder Squad. Inspector Walter Day, Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith, and Dr. Bernard Kingsley have two days to solve the case, but they
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In March 1890, the village of Blackhampton in the Midlands of England is as dark and as ominous as its name implies. A coal mining town, its edifices are built atop mine tunnels and frequently sink into the earth, swallowed by the place’s very livelihood, and the air remains thick with dust and ash. The inhabitants are set in their ways, and the eerie locale is steeped in superstition that is as sinister as its appellation—the Black Country. No one questions the premise that magpies foretell eve ...more
Benjamin Thomas
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
This second of the “Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad” series finds our team in the village of Blackhampton in the British Midlands in the year 1889. It’s known as the “Black Country” because of the heavy coal mining industry there in years past as well as because bad things happen there.

This is a complex murder mystery with several key subplots that mostly all come together in the end. A missing family, a stranger staying in the inn, a coterie of extremely superstitious village folk and a mysterious
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it
I wanted so, so much to love this book. After falling in love with Day, and Hammersmith, and Kingsley in the first book, I was so excited to read about them again. Unfortunately, this story left me sorely disappointed. All my favourite characters were out to play, but the plot was another story (and another story, and another story, and another...)

The numerous plot lines were a hodgepodge of bits and pieces that barely held together, like a child's art project put together with scotch tape. I th
Jenn Ravey
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
It was an unusual egg. Not at all like other eggs Hilde had seen. It was slightly larger than a robin’s egg, white with a thin spiderweb of red, visible under a paper-thin layer of snow….The blue dot in the center ringed a smaller black spot and reminder her of something, but it was out of context and it took her a long moment to place it.

And then she did and it was an eye, and the eye was looking at her.

Alex Grecian’s The Black Country has one of the more visceral openings of an historical myst
Amy Sturgis
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Black Country is an able sequel to The Yard. It picks up several months after the events in The Yard and follows London's own Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith as they travel to an isolated mining village in the English Midlands for a brief (and, they hope, routine) investigation of a missing family feared to be the victims of murder.

Alex Grecian's strengths are creating a tangible sense of place and atmosphere - what he accomplished for post-Ripper London in The Yard he m
Bill Rogers
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable book, it carries on in the macabre tradition of The Yard, the first in this series. Once again Inspector Day and Sergeant Hammersmith have a mystery to solve; once again there are wheels within wheels and side issues galore. Unlike the first book, though, most of the side issues tie into the main story more than incidentally.

I felt that Mr. Grecian slipped over the line into surrealism here, though. I find the setting to be less than believable. If you are willing to accept that thi
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
In the wake of a freak spring snowstorm, Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith of Victorian London’s Murder Squad arrive at an isolated mining village in the English Midlands and the reader is immediately plunged into a gripping mystery.

They’ve been summoned by the village constable who, though reluctant to admit it, finds the disappearance of a father, mother and child beyond the scope of his abilities. The trio has gone missing, leaving behind three other children in the care of
Kathy Davie
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Second in the Scotland Yard's Murder Squad historical mystery series and revolving around Inspector Walter Day whose case takes him to the British Midlands in March 1890.

My Take
It's an interesting combination of immature writing with a tension-filled plot that kept me intrigued. Grecian certainly kept the tension up as he slowly, slowly dribbled out the information on the identities of the American and Campbell as well as the cryptic comments made by Anna and Peter *shiver*, that bit of foreshad
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  • Letters From a Murderer (Finley Jameson & Joseph Argenti #1)
  • The Executioner's Heart (Newbury and Hobbes, #4)
  • The Bedlam Detective (Sebastian Becker, #2)
  • The Black Hand (Barker & Llewelyn, #5)
  • The Secret Notebooks of Sherlock Holmes
  • Seduction of the Innocent (Jack & Maggie Starr #3)
  • A Curtain Falls (Simon Ziele, #2)
  • The Fatal Flame (Timothy Wilde, #3)
  • Murder as a Fine Art (Thomas De Quincey, #1)
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares
  • Lawless & The Devil of Euston Square: Introducing Campbell Lawless
  • The Solitary House (Charles Maddox #2)
  • Deadly Diamonds (Knight and Devlin #4)
  • A Sunless Sea (William Monk, #18)
  • The Inspector's Daughter (Rose McQuinn, #1)
  • The Circle of Thirteen
  • Instruments of Darkness (Crowther and Westerman, #1)
Grecian is the author of several bestselling thrillers, including THE SAINT OF WOLVES AND BUTCHERS, and five novels featuring Scotland Yard's Murder Squad: THE YARD, THE BLACK COUNTRY, THE DEVIL'S WORKSHOP, THE HARVEST MAN, and LOST AND GONE FOREVER, plus the original Murder Squad ebook, THE BLUE GIRL.

He also created the six-volume graphic novel series PROOF, and the two-part graphic novel RASPUTI

Other books in the series

Scotland Yard's Murder Squad (5 books)
  • The Yard (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad, #1)
  • The Devil's Workshop (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad, #3)
  • The Harvest Man (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad, #4)
  • Lost and Gone Forever (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad, #5)