Saturday, December 17, 2011

Murders on Grub Street by Bruce Alexander (Sir John Fielding)

As always, Bruce Alexander skillfully weaves historical research into the story and maintains young Jeremy's Proctor voice (and period prose) without allowing the narrative to become too heavy.

Jeremy, of course, is the thirteen-year-old ward of the court who assists the blind magistrate of Bow Street Court and narrates Sir John Fielding's adventures.

The second installment of the Sir John Fielding mystery series offers a glimpse both into the tumultuous printing industry of the 1760s as well as how Bedlam, the insane asylum, was run. There is also an underlying historical expose of how mentally ill prisoners were treated that is skillfully woven into the story as well.

Some of the characters from the pilot book make good reappearances (the Bow Street Runners) and a few more have been added. Jeremy experiences some growth, but still remains naive enough to teach the reader a few things as a matter of course.

The plot twists were well done, but I would have liked more of the view into the courts and the still-evolving legal system of the time that was present in the first novel. Still, another successful installment and I look forward to reading the next one.

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