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Book Review - Alex Grecian's "The Devil's Workshop"

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar.

9780399166433_p0_v1_s260x420Alex Grecian’s latest book, The Devil’s Workshop, has a thrilling plot with notorious characters.  This is the third book in the series out of six.  The plot takes place in London during the 1890s with a theme comparing law and justice.  It is more of a “who done it” than an actual mystery since the readers know the villains and their deeds.

The plot begins with a prisoner horribly tortured by persons unknown to him. A few chapters later the reader is able to learn who the prisoner is and why he is being tortured. A secret organization of zealots, after capturing certain criminals, attempts to dispense their own brand of justice. They have planned for some of the murderers to escape from prison, but the plan goes incredibly wrong. As the killers elude the secret society, Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad detectives, Walter Day and Nevil Hammersmith, are asked to find the criminals.  Unfortunately, the criminals are able to resume their sadistic killing as they try to avoid the chase by the detectives.

Grecian used the secret organization to illustrate the theme of law versus justice. He explained to, “I wanted to make the society have lofty moral ideals.  That is why I included in the book the quote, ‘Law does not concern itself with justice.’ The law is set up to serve the people but it cannot serve every specific person. Sometimes justice is not served since a guilty person can be found innocent and vice-versa.  I guess I would summarize it best that the law is concrete and justice is slippery.  For example think of a murdered child.  Even if the perpetrator was found guilty that does not bring back the child.”

Early on the reader finds that one of the escaped killers is none other than Jack The Ripper.  Grecian is able to solicit different emotions from the readers regarding this character, ranging from hatred to sympathizing with him. They are exposed to his past and present exploits, as well as to his philosophical thoughts about law and justice.

The author told, “Anybody writing about Jack The Ripper is essentially working with a made-up character since no one knows who he actually was.  I went to great lengths to put my own interpretation to him including giving him certain quirks.  I hope I succeeded in having you feel sorry for Jack The Ripper.  I wanted to make him unpredictable, which is why I wrote those scenes where some of his actions can be considered good.  Yet, I also had him do some really evil things.  I did this to keep the reader guessing as to what he might do.”

He gave a heads up about his next projects.  The next book in the series will concentrate on the killer “Harvestman” who looks for his parents by carving up people and looking inside them. One of the detectives, actually his wife’s favorite, will be back but in a different profession.  The next book, just as with this one, will end in a cliffhanger. He is also writing a graphic novel, a comic book, with artist Riley Rossmo who he wrote with years ago.  This new series, due out in November, is about Rasputin, taking place during and just after WWI.  It will be a fictional version of his life and times that will include the conspiracy theories.  He explores the possibility that MI6 killed him to keep Russia in the war, something Rasputin advocated against. 

The Devil’s Workshop is not a book for the squeamish.  It will keep the reader on the edge of their seat with its psychotic characters and intense plot.  The action is non-stop and the reader will not want to put the book down.