The Devil's Workshop: A Novel of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad
The Victorian Era in British history, from 1837 until 1901, was the span of influence under Queen Victoria, an era mixed with both prosperity and infamous crime. The new Gilded Age was one that provided hope to many British citizens and was also marked by one of the most brutal murderers ever to walk the face of the earth --- the individual with the moniker of Jack the Ripper.
Although there has been much speculation as to the identity of “Saucy” Jack, no actual proof has ever been supported to identify him. His string of brutal murders, mostly of prostitutes, scarred the psyches of the British police force, as well as all of its citizens. The fact that Jack was never caught created an interesting dichotomy among British society. There was those who were happy he went away and stopped killing. Others, however, held the police at fault for not following through on Jack's apprehension and decided to take matters into their own hands.
"Alex Grecian's novel paints a typical picture of the Victorian Era circa 1890, continuing the legend of Jack the Ripper."
The term Karstphanomen was born at this time. This label was given to the secret society made up of prominent London citizens who believed that criminal punishment should more directly match the actions of the criminals themselves. It is this secret group that is at the heart of Alex Grecian's latest thriller, THE DEVIL'S WORKSHOP.
A derailed train crashes into a prison that is housing some of London's most hardened criminals. The destruction caused to the prison walls was enough to allow for several of them to get away. It is obvious that this was a scripted incident whereby someone on the inside had to have been involved in assisting with the escape.
Two of those criminals, Griffin and Cinderhouse, find themselves in the area beneath London --- the fabled second city of underground catacombs and byways that many did not believe actually still existed. They come upon an interesting sight: a hooded man chained in an underground room who had been tortured, starved and mistreated for over a year. After freeing this man of his hood and chains, he reveals himself, subtly, as the infamous Jack the Ripper.
Jack takes one of the men, Cinderhouse, under his wing to help do his bidding. Of course, Cinderhouse must pay for this honor with his own tongue --- surgically removed by Jack as punishment for talking back. Cinderhouse is valuable because he knows the location of Detective Inspector Walter Day's home. Day was one of those responsible for bringing Cinderhouse and some of the other killers to justice as a member of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad, and he is spearheading the search for the escaped prisoners. Jack plans to insert himself into the situation by dropping by D.I. Day's home and paying a visit to his pregnant wife.
Day finds himself sidetracked in his search efforts. The main reason for this is the emergence of a retired P.I. who has volunteered his services to find the missing prisoners. This gentleman, Adrian March, has his own agenda. You see, he is a member of the Karstphanomen, and they have a lot of work to do directly under the nose of the current police force. Alex Grecian's novel paints a typical picture of the Victorian Era circa 1890, continuing the legend of Jack the Ripper.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 6, 2014