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An Experiment in Treason (Sir John Fielding Series #9)
     

An Experiment in Treason (Sir John Fielding Series #9)

5.0 2
by Bruce Alexander
 

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A packet of incendiary letters is stolen from the London residence of a prominent official, and turns up in the colony of Massachusetts. Why are the contents of the letters so controversial? Why has a suspect in the theft turned up dead? And what should magistrate Sir John Fielding do about his feeling that Benjamin Franklin is somehow complicit? While the tensions

Overview

A packet of incendiary letters is stolen from the London residence of a prominent official, and turns up in the colony of Massachusetts. Why are the contents of the letters so controversial? Why has a suspect in the theft turned up dead? And what should magistrate Sir John Fielding do about his feeling that Benjamin Franklin is somehow complicit? While the tensions rise, Sir John and his protégé, Jeremy Proctor, search for answers—and find that justice isn’t always served by the letter of the law.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sir John Fielding and his young prot g , Jeremy Proctor, those delightful Georgian versions of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, get mixed up in pre-Revolutionary War intrigue in their ninth outing (after 2001's Smuggler's Moon). A burglary of the home of the British secretary of state for colonial affairs turns violent, leading to the disappearance of some valuable letters that may be connected with the incipient rebellion in Massachusetts. While Sir John, the legendary Blind Beak of Bow Street, sits and thinks, Jeremy functions as his eyes and legs, interviewing witnesses, conducting surveillance and further developing his detective skills. Jeremy's burgeoning relationship with a servant girl adds depth to the drama. The sleuths enlist the aid of the legendary Samuel Johnson when the government, which is weighing the political merits of charging American patriots with treason, wants American envoy Benjamin Franklin interrogated as a suspect. Alexander evokes the period without anachronisms of word or thought to jar the reader. Franklin himself comes across as a fully realized character, with his strengths and frailties both on display. Given the relative unimportance of the puzzle element of the plot, this work ranks a little below Blind Justice and the superb Watery Grave. Still, Alexander's creations are as full of life and interest as when they debuted, a formidable accomplishment for a long series, one that mystery fans should hope has many more entries to come. (Oct. 14) Forecast: Displaying this one alongside Edmund S. Morgan's recent short Franklin biography or H.W. Brands's The First American (2000) could attract Franklin fans, who've been waiting for a good fictional cameo ever since Herman Melville's caricature of the Philadelphia sage in Israel Potter (1855). Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Benjamin Franklin faces off against blind magistrate Sir John Fielding as protégé Jeremy Proctor, on the brink of manhood and beginning legal studies, recounts Sir John’s ninth adventure, which begins with the burglary of powerful politician Lord Hillsborough’s residence. But what was stolen? Hillsborough’s stonewalling only intensifies Sir John’s interest until he learns at length that it was letters relating to American colonial turmoil. The clues lead from a pair of laborers Lord Hillsborough hired to a Dr. Arthur Lee, who hired the thieves, and finally to Franklin, Lee’s travelling companion in England. Though the murder of one of the burgling pair raises the stakes of the investigation, Sir John must proceed discreetly lest revelations in London affect the political situation across the ocean. In a plethora of subplots, nearly as much intrigue and turmoil, mostly romantic, attend the household of Sir John himself. Franklin flirts shamelessly with saucy cook Molly and Clarissa, Jeremy’s intended. The threat of criminal charges and deportation to her native France for pirate queen Marie Helene, a holdover from Sir John’s last case (Smuggler’s Moon, 2001), drives her sweetheart, series regular Black Jack Bilbo, to distraction. Tom Durham, Jeremy’s fellow ward and close friend, returns from a stint at sea no longer a boy but a rugged and rakish man with a good deal to interest Clarissa, much to Jeremy’s chagrin. As usual, Alexander portrays the Georgian era deftly and juggles his large (and expanding) recurring cast with aplomb. Series veterans will find far greater rewards than newcomers encountering this caravansary for the first time.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425192818
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/07/2003
Series:
Sir John Fielding Series , #9
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
397,284
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.72(h) x 0.85(d)

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An Experiment in Treason (Sir John Fielding Series #9) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read Walter Isaacson's new biography of Franklin (Benjamin Franklin: An American Life), and then finally getting to this fun read was providential. Realizing that Alexander writes fiction, nonetheless, some characters and certain events are factual. Alexander is such a fine storyteller, I felt as if I was reading a missing chapter from Isaacson's fantastic biography of B. Franklin! A fun read, well-told, with excellent character and plot development.
harstan More than 1 year ago
He may be blind but Sir John Fielding is regarded as one of the most intelligent magistrates in 1793 London. He presides as a judge in court and leads investigations on matters that are sensitive to England¿s interests. Lord Hillsborough, the Secretary of State for the American Colonies, is robbed and one of the footmen is dead. He tells Sir John that he has no idea what the burglars were after but the magistrate doesn¿t believe him.

After he reports to his superior, Sir John is ordered to once again visit Lord Hillsborough who promises to be forthcoming. He says a packet of letters were stolen but he won¿t say how many or what was in them. Sir John¿s assistant, Jeremy traces the purloined letters to Ben Franklin and his confederate Arthur Lee. The latter is seen boarding a ship heading to the colonies and Jeremy presumes the letters are on board. Sir John is really not interested in the politics but he is interested in justice and will do all in his power to see the killer go to jail no matter who it is.

It is fascinating to read about the English perspective on the troublesome English colonies and how far radicals will go in support of their solution. Bruce Alexander is a fine storyteller and the historical detail he brings to the plot only enhances the quality of AN EXPERIMENT IN TREASON. Readers will continue to read the Sir John Fielding mysteries because they are excellent period pieces.

Harriet Klausner