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Sir John Fielding #9

An Experiment In Treason

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Sir John Fielding has trailed a packet of controversial letters from London to the colony of Massachusetts. But when the suspect in the theft is found dead, Sir John turns his eye on the possible involvement of Benjamin Franklin.

336 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2002

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About the author

Bruce Alexander

29 books109 followers
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.

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5 stars
211 (32%)
4 stars
305 (46%)
3 stars
127 (19%)
2 stars
12 (1%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews
Profile Image for Spuddie.
1,524 reviews84 followers
September 1, 2009
#9 Sir John Fielding mystery in which Jeremy and Sir John become involved in a plot involving Benjamin Franklin and the American colonies. Someone has stolen a packet of letters from the home of a prominent member of Parliament, believed to be damning to certain British officials with regard to the rights of the Colonials. A footman was brutally coshed on the head and killed during the burglary, therefore it’s a murder case as well. Mr. Franklin is high on the suspect list as having hired certain thugs to perform the deed, but without proof, Sir John and Jeremy are stuck at a standstill.

Several changes are in the works with regards to secondary characters as well, as the Fieldings’ former cook, Annie, stars in a production of Romeo and Juliet, Molly (the new cook) settles in and is courted by Dr. Donnelly (the medical examiner) and Jeremy and Clarissa’s relationship begins to change. Enjoyable entry in the series as always; the author’s notes indicate that he played fast and loose with known historical fact in this book with regard to Ben Franklin’s involvement, but I thought he did it very well. It *is* historical fiction after all!
Profile Image for Sandy Bell.
Author 6 books53 followers
May 1, 2017
I love this series. Alexander never lets me down. A fun romp in 1770s London with murder, stolen letters, giant slave hunter, and all the while visiting with Benjamin Franklin. What else do you need?
Profile Image for Ivor Armistead.
360 reviews8 followers
September 16, 2021
Perhaps not quite four stars and not the very best of the Sir John Fielding series, but still a good read.
Profile Image for LJ.
3,156 reviews313 followers
September 7, 2007
Bruce Alexander – 9th in series
Sir John Fielding, a blind, 18th-century London judge, and his orphan accomplice, Jeremy, get mixed up in pre-Revolutionary War intrigue when a packet of incendiary letters is stolen from the London residence of a prominent official, and turns up in the colony of Massachusetts. Why are the contents so controversial? Why has a suspect in the theft turned up dead? And what should Sir John do about his feeling that Benjamin Franklin himself is somehow complicit?

The books in this series are so complete; well-developed characters about one cares, well-researched history, excellent sense of place, wonderful voice, and a good mystery besides. These are always a pleasure to read.
Profile Image for Beth.
471 reviews5 followers
February 29, 2016
The third book I have read in the Sir John Fielding Mystery, An Experiment in Treason includes several real life characters, including Benjamin Franklin, in a story of murder, torture and espionage. Jeremy Proctor, the young protégé of blind magistrate Sir John Fielding, narrates this story of stolen letters, state secrets, and odd Americans. The streets team with nefarious but engaging characters and Jeremy must help Sir John discover who is torturing and murdering those involved in the theft, all the while learning about what it is to be a man and a lawyer.

An excellent, engaging and enjoyable series.
Profile Image for Christopher Taylor.
Author 10 books72 followers
October 31, 2022
Jeremy, now 18 years old, gets involved with the American revolution in a plot involving a theft at a noble's mansion in London. Benjamin Franklin features prominently in the story, and Jeremy and Clarissa finally admit they love each other, moving his story along significantly.

This is a pretty interesting story but for me at least felt less steeped in history. The court cases showing Magistrate Fielding's skill in handling cases are minimal. Ben Franklin's responses and most important interactions are described rather than presented, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Joe.
Author 4 books3 followers
July 30, 2008
See my review of the initial novel in the series, Blind Justice.
Profile Image for Donna.
662 reviews
June 21, 2011
It was completely coincidence that I grabbed this book to read while we were in Boston. What an appropriate choice it ended up being! Another great one in the series.
Profile Image for Sandy Shin.
141 reviews3 followers
June 19, 2017
Interesting to read the British point of view of the American Colonies complaints, but the human interactions seem very bland and one dimensional. Not as good as the previous books
2,102 reviews30 followers
December 10, 2019
The year was 1773. It started with a robbery resulting in the death of a footman at the house of Lord Hillsborough, Secretary of State for the American Colonies. The Lord Secretary was not very forthcoming when questioned by the Blind Beak as to what was stolen which led both Sir John and Jeremy into making their own surmises... as it turned out Jeremy's theories caused Sir John a sleepless night regarding their plausible reality. Then there was Benjamin Franklin, already a temporary denizen of London, giving a convenient face for accusations of Treason and as a Scapegoat for angry Englishmen... for he was linked to (and had knowledge of) the purloined letters taken from Lord Hillsborough's house... and those said letters, written by men of power and substance corresponding with one another as to the cavalier and forceful action against fellow Englishmen in the American colonies, were taken to America and were published in Boston's prominent broadsheet contrary to naive Ben Franklin's admonitions of secrecy thus inflaming the already unjustly~taxed~beleaguered colonists (re~ Ben Franklin's reproach to the Crown of "taxation without representation") into thoughts of insurrection with the Sons of Liberty capitalizing on the situation... thus the fires of American Independence were fed and banked... same situation was further aggravated by pompous Lords and Asses treating the colonists like children and skivvies... Here, too, Jeremy had his first kill protecting Ben Franklin...
Profile Image for Carl.
544 reviews1 follower
June 19, 2019
Another thrilling page turner; “An Experiment in Treason" is the eighth book in Bruce Alexander’s mystery series centering on Sir John Fielding and an ever evolving young Jeremy Proctor, the narrator. As usual, Alexander’s research is excellent providing the reader with strong local color, well developed colorful characters, and gripping plot lines. The protagonist is a blind 18th century London magistrate Sir John Fielding, who is based on a real historical character. This historical mystery also includes several real life characters, including Benjamin Franklin, who is painted a little differently in the story of murder, torture and espionage.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a well carefully crafted historical mystery, and I would recommend beginning with the first book to fully appreciate character development ~ especially in Jeremy. Alexander is an excellent story teller and provides the reader with a carefully crafted plot some better than others ~ but all worth reading. Highly recommended! I will be sorry to see this series end since there are only a few more books to go.
995 reviews3 followers
August 27, 2019
The author (Bruce Alexander Cook) is an American but has written a series of excellent 18th century English mysteries featuring the blind magistrate Sir John Fielding. Sir John is by all measures, a superior magistrate considered a fair and just man by the community on the outskirts of London that he serves. He is helped by Jeremy Proctor, a young man who serves as Sir John’s “eyes.” Jeremy is “reading the law” with Sir John, and serves as his aide in many ways. In this adventure, a packet of letters is stolen from a magistrate, and during the theft a man is killed. The letters turn up in Massachusetts and are published. Their harsh rhetoric towards the colonies inflames the Americans. Ben Franklin, then living in London, is thought to have something to do with the theft. Can Sir John (and Jeremy) get to the bottom of the thefts (and murders)? ---- An interesting mystery based on an actual event leading to the American Revolution. …. Sir John is a particularly interesting main character. I’ll have to look for more books in the series.
507 reviews
September 29, 2021
Another exceptional novel by Bruce Alexander (Cook) who sadly passed away in 2003. The good news is I still have a few more to read! This is historical fiction, based on fact but adding characters and events to fill out a fun story.

The author has provided his readers with a wonderful romp through 1770's London with his core of well-drawn characters, some real, some not. I love the period atmosphere, and the story features Benjamin Franklin in a starring, if not flattering role. The story features a real mystery that has never been solved and is told from the British point of view.

The book moves a little slowly at times but does have plenty of action and humor to keep you turning the pages. All in all, a very good read!
49 reviews
July 25, 2021
I've enjoyed all of Bruce Alexander's tales of Sir John Fielding, and this is no exception. But, in all honesty, branding it a mystery is rather false. This volume falls into the historical fiction category. Less concerned with the crimes involved (and indeed there is little doubt about the culprits) and more about the looming conflict between Great Britain and its American colonies, and with abundant domestic drama, it won't tax anyone's powers of deduction. There is abundant social history here, but unlike previous volumes, the locales are very limited, a very London-centric book, which disappointed me.
Profile Image for Carolyn Rose.
Author 39 books200 followers
July 7, 2020
A little slow in spots. Pays to know your history and what led up to the Revolutionary War.
79 reviews
November 6, 2020
Its nice seeing the maturation of Jeremy. This book focus more on the characters and less on the investigation offering more insights into the characters.
Profile Image for Wendy.
815 reviews14 followers
May 5, 2018
An Experiment In Treason was a fascinating story where the UK's feelings and politics towards her North American Colonies, aka America come into play. Bruce Alexander admits in an Author's Note, he had taken artistic license with some of the facts. That was okay.
While trying to solve a violent burglary and subsequent murder Jeremy and Sir John encounter Dr. Benjamin Franklin.
It is late 1773 - less than 3 years before the Revolutionary War. As an American, I was only taught the Colonists perspective. It was intriguing reading of other opinions of what transpired before the war.
At one point, Franklin's loyalties are questioned. I do not recall what true his views were in regards towards the Crown.
Profile Image for Lynn.
649 reviews
December 30, 2012
I'm very fond of this series, but this was not the best Sir John Fielding in the set. As ever, the series characters are well drawn and develop nicely, but there are several plot elements left hanging.

What's up, for example, with the experiment that opens the novel? It seems there should have been some follow up on that. And I'm not sure about the rapid development of the relationship between Jeremy and Clarissa, unless it's about to encounter some rough waters. And how the bad guy is dispatched? Although it's set up, it's way too unlikely. And while I like the use of historical people, the characterization of Ben Franklin here is rather more prurient than necessary.

Overall, not the best, but I still am very fond of the characters and use of history and period detail in this series.
Profile Image for Sally.
58 reviews
June 26, 2013
This one was about Ben Franklin, and the American revolution. It depended heavily on the others, and would have been hard to "get" without having read the previous ones. They are slow, and not so interesting as the earlier ones, perhaps because there is little new in them. I do enjoy the history, but there is not much of it.
Profile Image for Meggie.
4,778 reviews
June 5, 2014
The main storyline in this book was a bit slow and based on politics, missing letters, etc. So more or less a bit boring, but still full of humor and great dialogues. I liked this book because on Jeremy's active role. He is more and more a well developed character, and he got engaged to be engaged. That part was truly funny for me.
Profile Image for Rhonda.
208 reviews7 followers
December 29, 2009
another good one - and jeremy finally figures out what we've known for some time!! woo hoo! i'm saddened, however, that there are only 2 more in this series and the author is deceased. another great series will soon come to an end. bummer dude.
Profile Image for Janice.
155 reviews
January 27, 2012
So, did I know before that Benjamin Franklin was in England at the time of the Boston Tea Party? Not sure I knew that! Fascinating book, intriguing plot! I will be sorry to see this series end--only two more books to go.
Profile Image for Dawn.
1,248 reviews74 followers
December 18, 2015
I like the portrayal of Ben Franklin as more of a dissolute rather than the paragon, father of America.
A view of the American war for independence from the British side was interesting and it was about time Jeremy and Clarissa got together.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews

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