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Murder in Grub Street

(Sir John Fielding #2)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,335 ratings  ·  112 reviews
The crime appeared as easily solved as it was wicked. A Grub Street printer, his family, and two apprentices brutally murdered in their sleep. A locked building. And at the scene, a raving mad poet brandishing a bloody axe. Surely the culprit had been found, and justice would be swift and severe.

But to Sir John Fielding, justice was more than finding a culprit-it was fin
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by Berkley (first published 1995)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  1,335 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is proving to be another really good historical mystery series, set in 18th century London and full of interesting details and facts.

Murder in Grub Street features the story of Sir John Fielding who was not only Magistrate of the Bow Street Court and the famous Bow Street Runners, but was also brother to Henry Fielding, the noted author of works such as The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling: Part 1.

The story is told from the point of view of Jeremy, a young orphan who has through a series
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sensational opening to the book finds a seemingly mad poet with a blood stained axe in his hands at the scene of a triple murder in Grub Street. It appears to be an open and shut case but Sir John Fielding, the blind magistrate of the Bow Street Court, has his doubts.

Aiding by his young assistant, Jeremy (who relates the tale), he sets out to find out the truth of the matter. He calls on one of the literary giants of the day, Dr Samuel Johnson, who adds his wisdom to the investigation. Then, o
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Another enjoyable book in this series. The characters are engaging, the historical setting feels authentic, and the writing is clear and readable. Yes, it's true that the baddies are fairly obvious almost from the start of the book, but that doesn't necessarily detract from the book -- any more than it does a classic Columbo show, where you know perfectly well whodunit, you're just waiting for Columbo to lead the killer along with his bumbling detective routine until he can prove it.

There's no b
Pamela B
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it
A better mystery than the first book in the series, "Blind Justice". While I wouldn't want a steady diet of this series, reading it in order interspersed with other reading is fun. ...more
Stacie  Haden
This is all that I want in a historical mystery. Great sense of place and time, characters you care about, and a good solid tale.
London, 1768
Rick Rapp
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
While I was not as caught up in this tale as I was in the original, I found it to be an unusual and interesting tale, filled with noteworthy characters. The blind magistrate who is "the brains" behind solving crimes is amusing and fascinating. The young narrator is endearing and thorough in his depiction of events and the multitude of characters. This was a nice distraction and touched upon some timely topics, including the bastardization of the Biblical word. For that alone, it is worth a read. ...more
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
In this sequel to Bruce Alexander’s first book “Blind Justice,” our narrator, 13-year-old Jeremy Proctor joins Sir John Fielding, the blind magistrate and co-founder of London's first police force, to investigate "The Murder in Grub Street." I loved "Blind Justice;" I only recently discovered the book and author on a recommendation of a friend. The characterization was marvelous; I quickly became involved in the characters' lives and wanted to know what was going to happen next. Set in the mid 1 ...more
Madhulika Liddle
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it
The second of Bruce Alexander’s series featuring the blind magistrate Sir John Fielding and his Bow Street Runners, Murder in Grub Street begins with a bloodbath in a publisher’s house and office on Grub Street. One night, publisher and printer Ezekiel Crabbe, along with his wife and children and his apprentices, is murdered brutally, hacked to bits with an axe. The alleged murderer, a rural poet named John Clayton who had been taken for a ride by Crabbe—who reaped large profits from Clayton’s f ...more
Waverly Fitzgerald
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The good news: discovering a writer whose work you love who has written a whole series. The bad news: learning that he is dead. At least there are 9 more books I can read in this series. I'm going to read them slowly.
Each one builds on the one before it, as far as I can tell, but in such a way that I think you could start anywhere. They adopt the same device as the Sherlock Holmes novels with different cases being narrated by Jeremy Proctor, a young boy who is the adopted assistant of Sir John F
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
Jeremey Proctor, by thankful circumstance, is once again to be left in the care of Sir John Fielding in the second novel of this series. Six murders have occurred on Grub Street, the street full of printers and books, and it's up to Sir John to solve it - with a bit of help from Jeremy as always.

The beginning of the book somehow didn't seem to flow with the middle of the book at first. We start off questioning a suspect, then the story almost drags a bit as the murders are, at least to me, pushe
Oct 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
I began liking Alexander's book - London in the 18th century, potentially interesting characters. But in the end I found the story incredibly lazy in its historical research, character development, and plot. The London he creates is formed by a slim number of particular details (unlike the London David Liss creates) and feels like a stage where the director is saying pay attention to this prop, do not notice I have not managed to do any other set design. His characters show little change, though ...more
Kumari de Silva
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
The murder in Grub Street is described rather graphically. No spoilers in this review - but the graphic description almost made me pass on the book. Beyond that first murder nothing else in the book is quite so intense.

This is historical fiction, a genre that I don't usually like. . .the characters just didn't ring true. I agree with another reviewer who said the idea that our main character had never tried ale before seems anachronistic at best. The main character reminded me of the titular ch
Rogue Reader
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-england
Murder in Grub Street is I think, the first Sir John Fielding mystery, and also my first. Fielding is blind and depends on others to physically assist, but his brilliant mind sees all despite his handicap. I love the era and setting of this historical mystery series, Georgian England, rich with texture, politics, social issues.

Until writing this snippet, I'd not realized that Sir John Fielding really did live from 1721-1780, really was blind and really was a Bow Street Magistrate. There's plent
Murder in Grub Street - VG
Bruce Alexander - 2nd in series
Following Jeremy proctor's adoption" by the Bow Street magistrate, Sir John Fielding, he has been found an apprenticeship with a printer in Grub Street. It was his father's trade and his knowledge of the business that had been happily snapped up by Ezekiel Cribb. However, on the day he was due to begin his apprenticeship, Cribb and his entire household are found massacred, the only survivor - heavily blood-stained - being a young poet whos
Vivienne Neal
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Great Historical Crime Story

The story begins with the brutal murder of a book publisher and his entire family in London during the mid-18th century. Supposedly, the killer, who is referred to as a mad poet, is caught with the weapon in his hand, but things are not always as they seem. The narrative is told through the eyes of thirteen year old Jeremy Proctor, the ward of Sir John Fielding, the benevolent and just magistrate, who will be overseeing the case. The plot develops into good storytel
Rena Sherwood
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well, let's see. I gave the first book in the series Blind Justice five stars but I actually liked this one better. So think of it as a five and a half star book.


Number Two in the series moves much faster than the previous book. It also is different from the usual police procedural (or, well, the substitute for police procedure back in 18th century London.) For me, mysteries drag during the endless interviews of suspects and witnesses. Not here. Okay, so there's not much of a mystery but HOW th
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like historical mysteries
This is the second in Alexander's series of historical mysteries about Sir John Fielding, founder of the Bow Street Runners. Dr. Samuel Johnson is also a character in this one, which is centered around the printing and publishing industry in Grub Street. A horrific multiple murder takes place there just before hero Jeremy Proctor is to leave Fielding's house to apprentice as a printer in the same shop where the murders are done. Multiple personality disorder, anti-Semitism, religious cults, and ...more
Jessica Padgett
Despite being the second book in the series it could stand well on its own. I enjoyed the unraveling of this mystery. From the beginning I was quite uncertain how he would manage it but he did wonderfully. There is still one instance in my mind however that I don't understand why it was there and/or mentioned; it may be illuminated in the next book I suppose. Overall, an entertaining read and I plan on reading the next installment though how soon I am not sure. It is not necessarily the type of ...more
Oct 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
i really liked this book. it's set in the mid 1700's in london and features a blind judge/sleuth and his young orphaned assistant. it's a time of tricorn hats and artful dodgers. i started with this one, the 2nd in the series, just by chance. the young assistant is 13 years old, but mature beyond his years. the narrator is this young man, many years later, recounting past stories. i plan to read the 1st one and continue with the rest in the series, of which there are about a dozen or so. one fun ...more
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any murder mystery fan
Recommended to Donna by: Cathy
They are an unlikely pair. An orphaned boy (Jeremy) and a blind Justice (Sir John Fielding), solve a horrific murder in London in the 18th century. Bruce Alexander has a real talent for developing characters which are instantly recognizeable and realistic. Anyone who loves historical fiction and mysteries will find it a good read. Middle school and high school students may find it a little tedious at times, due to the highly detailed nature of the story and use of the more verbose 18th century E ...more
Jul 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Jeremy Proctor, who has been taken into the household of Sir John Fielding, an eighteenth century London magistrate, is about to be apprenticed to Mr. Crabb, a printer in Grub Street. The night before Jeremy is sup0posed to report, the Crabb family is found murdered in their home, and a John Clayton is suspected of the crime. At the same time, a group0 of religious zealots from the American colonies arrive in London to convert the Jews. Sir John does not agree with others’ presumption of guilt o ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this next book in the series. While the murder of the title is very grim, there are a host of suspects and interesting characters which make Alexander's books a fun read. The only issue I have with the two books I've read so far is the voice of the narrator. I have trouble believing the 13-year-old narrator of the books would be so well spoken and educated, no matter how much he read and what his father taught him. He sounds more like the main character, Sir John Fielding, m ...more
Paula Dembeck
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This is the second book in the Sir John Fielding series.

Ezekiel Crabbe a publisher, his wife, two sons and two apprentices are viciously murdered in their Grub Street place of work. A man, bloodied and dazed is found standing over the bodies with an axe and a blood spattered night shirt. Sir John Fielding and his assistant Jeremy are called to the residence to investigate. The accused man seems to have three different personalities. And a fervent religious sect has taken up residence in Covent G
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
You have to be willing to enter into the time, pace, and language of late 1700's? London to appreciate these mysteries. They are well-written and clever, but slow. Since I'm concurrently reading the wildly-paced Jodi Taylor series, these are falling into a back seat. So I'll take them up a bit later. ...more
Monica Willyard Moen
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This series is addicting, and this book is even better than the first in the series. Magistrate sir John fielding has been blinded by a war injury. He investigates crimes with the help of his assistant Jeremy, a 13-year-old orphaned boy. In this mystery, a family and their apprentices are murdered and it seems like an open and shut case. Yet sir fielding has doubts and continues digging deeper.
Jill Margetts
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a delightful series! Historical British mysteries are my favorites and this series ranks up there as one of my favorites. The characters are very well drawn and likable. The plots are compelling and contain a sprinkling of history without being bogged down in details. Sir John and young Jeremy are becoming some of my favorite literary companions.
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
2nd in a series. Very slow, made me wonder what I had enjoyed about the first book to want to read the second one. I persisted. Got better, but overall not great. Skip it and read #3 which is much better.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent who-dunnit! With sympathetic characters, a feel for life in 1760s London, and a well-plotted mystery, I am enthralled with the Sir John Fielding series!
Paul Weiss
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recreates the 18th century in full colour and sound!

Recently orphaned Jeremy Proctor, "adopted" by blind magistrate Sir John Fielding and dutifully installed in the position of his assistant, protégé, jack-of-all-trades and utilitarian gopher, narrates a thoroughly entertaining tale of their continuing life together in Murder in Grub Street. Mere hours before Proctor is to report to a publishing house to begin his apprenticeship, Ezekiel Crabb, the owner, his entire family and two of their staff
Virginia Tican
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Again Jeremy would encounter another face of religion ~ the cult. Since his wardship with Sir John was just a temporary arrangement until he would be placed with a printer fully vetted by his temporary guardian, Jeremy was enjoying his stay with his blind protector and was loath to leave such a perfect set~up. A day before Jeremy was supposed to be apprenticed with Ezekiel Crabb, the whole Crabb family and their two apprentices were all hacked to death and the lone survivor was left holding a bl ...more
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Pseudonym of American journalist and author Bruce Cook.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Bruce Alexander Cook (1932–2003) was an American journalist and author who wrote under the pseudonym Bruce Alexander, creating historical novels about a blind 18th century Englishman and also a 20th century Mexican-American detective.

Other books in the series

Sir John Fielding (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Blind Justice (Sir John Fielding, #1)
  • Watery Grave (Sir John Fielding, #3)
  • Person or Persons Unknown (Sir John Fielding, #4)
  • Jack, Knave and Fool (Sir John Fielding, #5)
  • Death of a Colonial (Sir John Fielding, #6)
  • The Color of Death (Sir John Fielding, #7)
  • Smuggler's Moon (Sir John Fielding, #8)
  • An Experiment In Treason (Sir John Fielding, #9)
  • The Price of Murder (Sir John Fielding, Book 10)
  • Rules of Engagement (Sir John Fielding, #11)

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