Bruce Alexander's passion was 18th-century London, and while the posthumous publication of Rusles of Engagement marks the end of his remarkable six-book series featuring Sir John Fielding, the blind magistrate of the Bow Street Court, it is such a ripping good read that it deserves special attention. Alexander, who died in 2003, was a stickler for historical authenticity, but his richly detailed fiction has more than period atmosphere going for it. As he demonstrates in this story about a fashionable mesmerist who has all of London agog, he had a purist's grasp of the principles of storytelling in the grand classic tradition.
The New York Times
Alexander's many fans will find the final, posthumous Sir John Fielding mystery (after 2003's The Price of Murder) a bittersweet experience. It marks a triumphant return to the series' strengths, with the blind magistrate Fielding, the real-life founder of London's fledgling police force, the Bow Street Runners, once again playing a prominent role in unraveling a baffling crime. When Lord Lammermoor, who's involved in drafting emergency legislation to combat the American rebels on the eve of the Revolutionary War, falls to his death from Westminster Bridge, the insightful sleuth and his loyal legman, Jeremy Proctor, uncover clues suggesting that the lord was murdered, possibly through a form of hypnotism. While the guilty party's identity is obvious fairly early on, the author's gifts for vivid characterizations, colorful period details and fast pacing are very much in evidence. His two collaborators deserve acclaim for making it impossible to tell where Alexander's words end and theirs begin, and for enabling one of the worthier recent historical series to go out on a well-deserved high note. Agent, Phalen G. Hurewitz at Isaacman, Kaufman and Painter. (Mar. 3) FYI: Alexander was the pseudonym for Bruce Cook, who died in 2003. The nearly completed manuscript was finished by his wife, Judith Aller, and mystery author John Shannon (Terminal Island). Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In the final addition to Alexander's popular historical series about a blind 18th-century English magistrate, Sir John Fielding and his clerk Jeremy investigate the alleged suicide of Lord Lammermoor, a strongly anti-colonist politician who apparently jumped from the Westminster Bridge. But appearances, as they say, can be deceiving: the man's mistress, a former employee of Sir John, has a story to tell, and the man's widow-his second wife-has an agenda all her own. Historical references, family intrigue, a mesmerizing doctor, hidden passageways, and marrying characters enliven the plot: for all collections. Following Alexander's death last year, mystery author John Shannon (Terminal Island) and Alexander's widow completed the manuscript. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 10/1/04.] Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The inexplicable suicide of a powerful British lord leads Sir John Fielding and Jeremy Proctor to the weird worlds of medical quackery and necromancy. In 18th-century London, the Lord Chief Justice appeals to jurist and sometime sleuth Sir John Fielding when several witness see the distinguished Lord Lammermoor jump to his death from Westminster Bridge-even though he had no apparent reason to kill himself. Giving Sir John an edge is the secret disclosure of Annie Oakum, a former cook in the Fielding household gone on to thespian fame at the Drury Lane Theatre with David Garrick's famous troupe. She confesses to wide-eyed Jeremy, the blind Sir John's eyes, legs, and amanuensis, that she spent the night with Lammermoor, her lover, before his fatal leap. A dispute between the coroner, grim Mr. Trezavant, and the earnest doctor who first examined the body leads to an unsatisfying judgment of suicide, and further probing by Jeremy for Sir John. Sir John is suspicious of secretive Lady Lammermoor, who's tight with Mr. Goldsworthy, a "progressive" physician who claims he can heal with magnets and magnetized water. Unfortunately, the investigation's timing couldn't be worse for Jeremy, whose marriage to his long-time love Clarissa, Lady Fielding's ward, is imminent. Published posthumously, this 11th installment in the elegant Fielding series (The Price of Murder, 2003, etc.) was completed by the author's widow and mystery writer Jack Shannon. Most readers will wish for more.