This is a second outing for the redoubtable Inspector Day and Sergeant Hammersamith, this time not in London but in the Blacklands of the North-East. The plot is very thin, and you'd kick yourself if you didn't know what was going on by about a quarter of the way through, but that doesn't matter too much. Where Grecian scores is his vivid description of the awfulness of Victorian life in the Black Country: in fact, the book could probably sit quite happily on the shelves of a horror story collector. It is most certainly not for the squeamish.
   I can't really fault the characterisation or the way the characters interact with each other - and, as I say, the brutal surroundings are brought vividly to life. But I think the dialogue falls down in two ways. Firstly, the children speak far too clearly and precisely. Secondly, there is far too much dialogue where the speakers fence and dance around and never answer questions directly (because otherwise the book would be shortened considerably). I can take a little of this type of sparring, but I found too much of it here for my taste.
   That said, I thoroughly enjoyed The Black Country and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who wants to read a rather grisly detective story set in Victorian times. 
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