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Jack, Knave and Fool by Bruce Alexander

Jack, Knave and Fool

by Bruce Alexander

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This, the fifth in the series of historical mysteries featuring Sir John Fielding, the Blind Beak of Bow Street, and his ward Jeremy Proctor, is a worthy entry in the series. Jeremy's character continues to develop, as does that of the cook Annie. I gave it only three stars because I easily guessed the solution to one of the mysteries, since it hinged on a method of murder also used in a much more famous detective novel. Dr. Gabriel Donnelly, the ex-Navy surgeon, features largely in this book, and it is fascinating to see what state-of-the-art medicine could and couldn't do in 1771. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
#5 Sir John Fielding historical mystery set in 1770’s London and centering on the Bow Street Court. As usual with this series, several mysteries entwine to make an interesting mix. Annie, the cook, is learning to read and also joins a local choir. Jeremy begins reading his law books as his responsibilities for Sir John grow greater, and he feels much shame when he lets a prisoner escape. When it is brought to light later that the prisoner has a 12-year-old daughter, Jeremy gets involved with trying to help them. Meanwhile, Sir John is certain that the nephew of a prominent citizen has killed him off, but is unable to prove it—yet. As always, an excellent entry in the series. ( )
  Spuddie | Sep 25, 2008 |
The action begins at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in London, where Lord Laningham, the patron of the Academy of Ancient Music, swigs some wine, vomits "copiously" all over the stage and keels over dead during a concert featuring the music of Handel. Of course, Sir John Fielding is on the scene, and young Jeremy as well. But this is London in the late 18th century and Fielding is a magistrate, so there are other crimes to be had in this story as well: a fugitive from justice and the identification of a dead man whose head floats in a jar at Dr. Donnelly's office and who may or may not have been murdered.

I love to see Fielding dispense justice, even though I didn't think that Jack Knave and Fool was up there, say, with Murder in Grub Street (which was truly superb, by the way). All the same, I think that readers following the series will enjoy this one, as well as readers interested in historical London.

One more thing: I keep seeing references linking these books to the Aubrey-Maturin series; not even close! So if that's what you're expecting, don't. Just read it for what it is and you'll be much happier. ( )
  bcquinnsmom | Oct 18, 2007 |
have not read yet
  Simon1265 | Jan 14, 2007 |
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Chapter Heading: In Which We Visit the Crown and Anchor and a Lord Falls Dead
Because I have taken it upon myself to write of Sir John Fielding's feats of detection and of the most notorious matters which came before him as Magistrate of the Bow Street Court, I fear that the picture I have presented of him and his little household is somewhat unbalanced at best and most crudely distorted at worst.
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Begins in early 1771.

When the jolly Earl of Laningham drops dead in the middle of a Handel concert, the authorities insist he died of natural causes. But blind magistrate Sir John Fielding has a sixth sense for foul play, and instinct tells him that the Earl's sudden death was most decidedly unnatural. And when a severed head washes ashore on the banks of the Thames, Fielding and his assistant, 15 year old Jeremy Proctor, have yet another baffling crime to solve. Their investigation of the two deaths will take them from the streets of London's seediest neighborhoods to the living rooms of its stateliest mansions - for murderers come from all walks of life...
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425171205, Mass Market Paperback)

Bruce Alexander's books have the same addictive attention to detail as Patrick O'Brian's stories about the British navy. In fact, there really was a Sir John Fielding (1721-1780; would the Library of Congress lie?), the blind London magistrate so energetically restored to life by Alexander. And as he did in Person or Persons Unknown, Murder in Grub Street, Blind Justice, and Watery Grave, the author lets us observe Fielding from the distance of time, with middle-aged narrator Jeremy Proctor recalling his adventures as a 16-year-old alongside him. Here Jeremy plays a larger part in the investigations than he did in previous books. The two cases-- the poisoning of Lord and Lady Langinham, and the unknown identity of a severed head found in the Thames--are separated by money and class. Among the hundreds of little moments that make the book glow is Jeremy ordering coffee in a seedy dive, and being told by the waitress, "You only get that with a flash of lightning here, dearie"--meaning a shot of gin. --Dick Adler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:16 -0400)

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Sir John Fielding, the blind 18th century judge, and Jeremy Proctor, his young assistant, investigate the death by poison of a lord during a concert in London. His wife is poisoned soon after.

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