Since literally high school I have been disappointed that Caleb Carr only wrote one sequel to The Alienist. Fortunately, last year Alex Grecian came along with The Yard, another tale of a serial killer in the late years of the nineteenth century, when fingerprinting was new and not always accepted science. The Yard was the story of the newly formed Scotland Yard murder squad reacting to the murder of one of their own, as well as other crimes, not long after the Jack the Ripper murders. In The Black Country Inspector Day, Sgt. Hammersmith, and Dr. Kingsley trade the dirty, menacing city for a dirty, menacing, and sinking mining village, where they have two days to assist the local lawman in finding a missing couple and their youngest child. There is less focus on new investigative techniques in this book, apart from a brief discussion of blood stains, but the sense of foreboding remains. It is a sort of a nineteenth century rural noir.
Much of this book is very good. Day, Hammersmith, and Kingsley are all interesting characters to spend time with, even if we don't learn much more about any of them in this book than we already knew. And the threatening atmosphere of the village is as thick as ever. But there was quite a bit of sloppiness in the plot. Firstly, there was a murder that none of the other characters appear to have noticed by the end of the book. Second, there is a murderer who is important enough that we have several chapters from his viewpoint (though he is not behind everything) whose connection to the rest of the story remains rather loose and unexplained. The setting was strong enough to make me happy that I read it, but the story itself leaves much to be desired.
Overall Grade: B-