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Person or Persons Unknown (Sir John Fielding Series #4)
     

Person or Persons Unknown (Sir John Fielding Series #4)

by Bruce Alexander
 

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John Fielding was famous not only as cofounder of London's first police force, the Bow Street Runners, but also as a magistrate of keen intellect, fairness and uncommon detective ability. What made this all the remarkable was that he was blind. Now with his young assistant and ward, Jeremy Proctor, Fielding faces a series of crimes that hit shockingly close to home.

Overview

John Fielding was famous not only as cofounder of London's first police force, the Bow Street Runners, but also as a magistrate of keen intellect, fairness and uncommon detective ability. What made this all the remarkable was that he was blind. Now with his young assistant and ward, Jeremy Proctor, Fielding faces a series of crimes that hit shockingly close to home. Prostitutes are being murdered around Covent Garden, and Fielding devises a daring and desperate plan to find the culprit. However, the consequences are unexpected—and more terrible than even Fielding could imagine.

“Historical fiction done this entertainingly is as close to time travel as we’re likely to get.” – Newsday

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Alexander once again evokes the seamier side of 18th-century London to winning effect. A serial killer is slaughtering prostitutes in London's Covent Garden, circa 1770, challenging Bow Street's blind magistrate Sir John Fielding and his teenage assistant, Jeremy Proctor, in their fourth adventure (Watery Grave, etc.). A stiletto, thrust once with surgical precision, killed the first victim, but the second woman was horribly mutilated. Could more than one maniac be about? Sir John, temporarily serving as coroner, drafts young Jeremy to unearth evidence. As the murders mount, Jeremy revels in his new responsibility but fears for a young Italian prostitute named Mariah, with whose exotic beauty he has become infatuated. Suspicion first falls on bayonet-equipped guards from the Tower of London, since one victim was seen talking to a soldier. Then Sir John and Jeremy turn their attention to Mr. Tolliver, the local butcher, and Mr. Millicent, the nervous neighbor of the second victim. Told with a youthful sense of wonder by Jeremy, the story reveals an 18th-century London rife with dangers, class distinctions and religious tensions rooted, in this case, in anti-Semitism. Alexander provides rich period detail and a wonderful supporting castfrom the one-armed constable who shepherds Jeremy through the narrow streets to a busy collector of indigent corpses known as The Rakermaking this story intriguing from first page to last. BOMC alternate; audio rights to Books on Tape. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Eighteenth-century London comes alive in Alexander's (Watery Grave, LJ 9/1/96) fourth Sir John Fielding mystery. Here, Sir John, the blind magistrate of the Bow Street Court, and his ward and helper Jeremy Proctor investigate the murders of prostitutes in Covent Garden. After several deaths occur, it becomes clear that they are searching for not one but two brutal killers, each with his own cruel method of murder. With the help of the Bow Street Runners and Gabriel Donnelly, a doctor and medical examiner, Sir John and Jeremy sort through numerous suspects before finally discovering that the deranged murderers were under their noses all along. A first-rate mystery plot, vividly depicted atmosphere, and the growing relationship between Sir John and Jeremy make this an excellent addition to a quality series. Recommended for all collections.Melissa Kuzma Rockicki, NYPL
Kirkus Reviews
From a distance of 27 years, barrister Jeremy Proctor recalls the fourth case in which, as a boy, he assisted Sir John Fielding, the blind Magistrate of the Bow Street Court (Watery Grave, 1996, etc.). The case this time is a ghastly one: the murders of five Covent Garden prostitutes. The more fortunate victims have been dispatched by surgically precise stab wounds to the chest; the others have been violated after death in ways that show how little the 18th century yields to the 20th in the matter of disgusting spectacles. (One enterprising widower is caught in the act of charging admission to the scene of his wife's recent demise and selling off her organs as souvenirs.) The usual broad palette of local color is guaranteed when suspicion falls successively on a Grenadier Guard, a Jewish outcast—whom Oliver Goldsmith is called upon to vindicate—and a butcher who would've thought twice about reporting his gruesome discovery if he'd known the price he'd pay. Through it all, Sir John shines as a dealer of summary justice, and Jeremy as a plucky and adventurous lad who dreams of using the enormous reward of ten pounds to buy a streetwalker's freedom from her brutish pimp. Jeremy's adventures, especially, are many and exciting, and every dingy corner of London reeks of squalor and danger.

The only thing that's missing is detection; even after the perps are caught in the act, there's precious little evidence against them. It's lucky for Sir John that he's a magistrate and not a barrister himself.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425165669
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/01/1998
Series:
Sir John Fielding Series , #4
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
237,308
Product dimensions:
4.24(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.90(d)

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