Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Sir John Fielding #8

Smuggler's Moon

Rate this book
Off the water that separates England from France, near the seaside town of Deal, the practice of "owling," a local term for the illegal cargo trade, thrives on the moonlit beaches. Blind judge Sir John Fielding and his young protege Jeremy Proctor have been sent to Deal to question the town magistrate, accused of complicity in the smuggling. — But just as their investigation begins, the smugglers turn murderous, dispatching esteemed members of the local gentry. Sir John believes that he and Jeremy are facing some very powerful enemies who not only control Smuggler's Beach, but the law as well...

294 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published September 1, 1998

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

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.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
219 (32%)
4 stars
305 (45%)
3 stars
135 (20%)
2 stars
15 (2%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
Profile Image for LJ.
3,156 reviews313 followers
September 7, 2007
Alexander, Bruce – 8th in series
Sir John Fielding, a blind, 18th-century London judge, and his orphan accomplice, Jeremy, visit the smuggler's haven of Deal in order to check on a supposedly crooked magistrate. The pair find murder and more in this latest edition to a very good series.

While the mystery was not overly complicated, I so love the characters, sense of time and place and almost gentle style of the author, I know I can always turn to this series for a reliably good book.
419 reviews35 followers
July 27, 2011
This is an excellent historical mystery. Sir John Fielding is shown through the eyes of his young assistant, the narrator, Jeremy. The story is exciting in it self--not a huge amount of fast action or swashbuckling sword fights. Rather, is is a suspenseful unraveling carefully clue to clue to bring murderers to justice.

I particularly liked the way Sir John fielding ws portrayed. In much fiction that I have read, blind people are either superhuman with no faults--or dolts. Sir John has enought human failings to be short empered with Jeremy and display other weaknesses. Yet he has a clever mind--when Jeremy and the other constables does the physical work and bring Sir John information and clues, he sits behind the scenes like a master chessplayer, plotting his next move againts the smugglers and the murderers.

Btw, if you want to check google, Sir John Fielding is based on an actual historical figure. Know as "The Blind Beak of the Magistrates court", the real Sir John could remember many witnesses by their voice alone and was a skilled interrogator.

If you like a good puzzle mystery with well developed characters, an interesting plot, and good historical details, this mystery should be to your liking.

Recommended for fans of mysteries; fans of straight history or historical fiction would also enjoy this.
260 reviews4 followers
January 17, 2017
While 8th in the series of Sir John Fielding mysteries, this is the 3rd I have read. I always appreciate Alexander’s story-telling even when little suspense exists...as in this one. Alexander is a good teller of tales... of the times, the city, the geography, and the mystery. This time Sir John, as magistrate, is given a special assignment in the countryside; more death and mayhem occurred in this novel than previous ones. Jeremy, his young charge, is 17 in 1772, and is now studying law under the magistrate while also serving as his personal attendant. Clarissa, another young charge, has joined the household and the story, adding a Nancy Drew element it seems. Good story telling; not great mystery, but always fun historical fiction.
Profile Image for Christopher Taylor.
Author 10 books72 followers
September 18, 2022
This was a pleasant read, continuing the story of Jeremy Proctor's growth and education in law while serving a Sir John Fielding's assistant. The mystery its self was not particularly challenging, and the bad guy was painfully obvious, but the characters are engaging and it is rewarding to read how Jeremy and Clarissa's relationship is changing over time as they age.
Profile Image for Ivor Armistead.
356 reviews8 followers
September 11, 2021
Four + stars. The books in this series keep getting better. “Smuggler’s Moon” is a bit faster paced than some of the earlier Sir John Fielding mysteries. If you’ve enjoyed the others, you’ll like this one too.
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,202 reviews141 followers
August 8, 2019
A somewhat predictable but thoroughly entertaining period mystery

"Smuggler's Moon", Bruce Alexander's eighth novel in the highly acclaimed Sir John Fielding series, is neither the cozy, lightweight mystery (à la Agatha Christie or Susan Wittig-Albert) nor the historical thriller that many readers might expect. It might more accurately be categorized as an atmospheric and compelling investigation set within a graphic description of 18th century Georgian England.

Jeremy Proctor, the 17 year old orphan learning the law from Bow Street magistrate, Sir John Fielding, narrates the story of an investigation of smuggling and murder along the Kentish coast. "Smuggler's Moon", as its predecessors in the acclaimed series did before it, will treat its readers to extraordinary characterization and atmospheric embellishment that brings people, time and place to life with a sparkling vitality and a sense of realism that can hardly be rivaled. Jeremy's character is further developed as, like so many teenaged boys maturing into manhood, he is disturbed by the first stirrings of romantic interest in his housemate, Clarissa Roundtree, an orphan like himself who was welcomed into the Fielding household as Lady Fielding's assistant.

I've said it before in other reviews of the series but it bears repeating. While each novel in the series can be read as a stand-alone mystery, maximum enjoyment will be the reward for the reader who takes the time to go back to the beginning and read the entire series in order. There is definitely a background story line to all of the characters, their development, their personal growth and their outlook on the world around them. Characters from previous novels pop in and out of the story and it definitely adds a layered dimension of enjoyment to each subsequent novel to know who they are and where they came from.

A highly recommended novel in a terrific ongoing series.

Paul Weiss

Profile Image for Hanna.
Author 2 books67 followers
September 6, 2022
Setting: England, 1772, from the perspective of a 17-year-old "right-hand-man" of an esteemed magistrate who is blind. The story begins in London, but much of the plot takes place in the coastal town of Deal. The setting, including the rather verbose manner of the characters' speech, is pretty well established. There is not a huge emphasis on establishing the historical setting, but nothing seems out of place in terms of era.

Characters: Generally likable, rather mysterious, and here and there amusing. The narrator, Jeremy, is mostly down-to-earth, eager to help, and sometimes the comic relief, because, as a not-quite-man, he is left out of the know. Nevertheless, his bright intellect comes to the surface at the appropriate times.

Sir John is, likewise, a normal character, appropriately wise for his magisterial position, and usually pretty thoughtful in the humanitarian aspect. As is appropriate for his relationship to Jeremy, he imparts to him a wise moral of the story at the end.

Many of the other characters are actually mysterious: are they bad guys or good guys? It's probably not all that hard to figure out, but of course the people's characters are revealed only gradually. Also, being in government doesn't mean being righteous, which is realistically portrayed.

Plot: Like I said, it's probably not too hard to spot the bad guys in the story, but I found the mystery compelling, and, well, mysterious. I don't peg characters as antagonists until I learn the "why" behind it, so I was unable to solve any of the mystery until its revealing. It is a murder mystery, along with other related mysteries, but it's also a murder mystery with heart and heartbreak. Still, happily, it's got a good ending for the heartbroken.

Content: This is not a Christian book. There are a couple instances of crass speech, a few instances of swearing, and talk and appearance of a ghost (that is apparently real, although this is an extremely minor part; Jeremy does not even share his opinion on the matter). The murder victims are described in a pretty detailed way, but more for a clinical purpose (and partially because Jeremy is the eyes of his master), and the scenes do not linger.
Profile Image for Carl.
542 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2019
Packed with rich historical detail, “Smuggler's Moon” is the 8th in the series of Sir John Felding historical mysteries. Bruce Alexander has given readers on of the best historical mysteries; his 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, while the story is told through the eyes of his young orphaned assistant, the narrator, Jeremy. These primary characters are dynamic and thus grow and change as the series continues ~ especially young Jeremy – so to fully appreciate the series, do try to read them in order.

From the title “Smuggler's Moon,” the plot obviously deals with smuggling in and around the near-by seaside town of Deal. They travel there to investigate a suspect magistrate just as the smugglers turn murderous. What Sir John and Jeremy find in Deal is dangerous and alarming.

I love Alexander’s story-telling even when little suspense exists. Set in the era of Johnson and Boswell, this is one of the best historical fiction series that I have read. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a well carefully crafted historical mystery, and, as mentioned before, I would recommend beginning with the first book to fully appreciate character development.
2,102 reviews30 followers
December 9, 2019
Kent... about 35 miles across the Narrow Sea or the English Channel from France and one of the foremost landing sites for smuggling the most coveted (specially by the rich and titled) luxury items from the continent. Sir John and Jeremy were tasked by Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice, to look into the derogatory reports regarding the Magistrate of Deal in Kent whom Lord Mansfield himself appointed. Clarissa also went with her menfolk to Kent in the absence of Lady Fielding. The rivalry between the smuggling gangs resulted in murder and armed confrontations between the forces of Law and the smugglers. A good and exciting adventure plus a solution to the more mundane problem of a Cook if only to avoid frequent belching, passing wind and diarrhea... Time alone will tell if Clarissa would ever turn out to be as good a cook as she was as Lady Fielding's secretary. But rhetorically, as there was already a new cook... would there be a need to learn...? Apropos was the unexpected and sudden love~after~the~firing~of~cannon~balls between Jack Bilbo (once~upon~a~time privateer) and the defeated lady captain of a French smuggling vessel married to an English peer owning maybe more than half of Deal. Lots of conundrums and complications ahead...
840 reviews17 followers
February 11, 2019
Once again, the Lord Chief Justice has asked Magistrate Sir John Fielding to look into a complaint about another magistrate, this time in the town of Deal, notorious for smuggling. Accompanied by wards Clarissa and Jeremy and a Bow Street Runner, Fielding sets out to determine whether his fellow magistrate is corrupt, incompetent or maligned.

This is a series best read in order and not as I am doing--backtracking to read books I've missed.
49 reviews
July 13, 2021
I enjoy this series not because the mysteries are closely plotted – in fact, the culprits and motives are readily seen early on. What I enjoy is the depiction of late 18th century English life, the characterizations, and the ambiance. This installment, set in the Kent coastal town of Deal, focuses on the “owling trade” or smuggling, and impressed me with the author's ability to depict a very large “cast” with individuality.
Profile Image for Sandy Shin.
141 reviews3 followers
June 14, 2017
A trip to Deal to mediate in a dispute between local landowner and the local magistrate leads to a small war, a naval encounter and discovery of the head of the smuggling operation.
This series is very satisfying
Profile Image for pearl_seeker.
128 reviews3 followers
May 26, 2018
Another excellent addition to the Sir John Fielding series. Lots of action in this book - murder, smuggling, cannons, a sword fight - the most swashbuckling adventure yet for our heroes!
Profile Image for Rhonda.
208 reviews7 followers
July 28, 2009
as usual, i liked this next installment. it wasn't my favorite, but was good. it doesn't seem that anything has really progressed with jeremy, though he is starting to notice girls a bit more - maybe clarissa and he will have a relationship in the future? he is still 17. sir john's family gets another new member - at least for the time being ( who know?). it was an interesting picture of corruption in government, and the way that personal feelings are in play for even the most trusted of officials.
Profile Image for Wendy.
813 reviews15 followers
July 18, 2016
Bruce Alexander's Sir John Series are wonderful. Smuggler's Moon richly describes London (and beyond) in 1772. Protagonist Jeremy Proctor deftly describes the atmosphere and Times. Alexander smoothly writes in Jeremy Proctor's voice in a way you would think they spoke back then. These books are a delight. I am going to be saddened when I finish the series.
Profile Image for Beth.
471 reviews5 followers
December 29, 2015
I love the Sir John Fielding Mystery series, and Smuggler's Moon is a particularly good one. Sir John's young assistant and protégé, Jeremy Proctor, is sent to a small sea side town that is mysteriously wealthy to find out who has been smuggling goods onto its beaches. Murder ensues and Sir John must take over the investigation, despite being blind. Delightful characters abound and eighteenth century life, for the rich and poor, comes to life.
Profile Image for Niffer.
708 reviews15 followers
May 2, 2013
I felt like this John Fielding mystery started out a little slow. There were a lot of pieces that needed to be put in place before the action could really start. This also felt very much like a transitional story--the author seems to be setting things up for some big changes in the future. Overall, though, it was enjoyable with plenty of action.
Profile Image for Hilary.
2,234 reviews50 followers
March 16, 2010
Gentle mystery featuring blind judge who solves the mystery. Even though the writing was well-composed, the story left me flat. Not a good fit for me. I can appreciate the appeal the novel may have for others, though.
Profile Image for KA.
871 reviews
February 4, 2014
My favorite of this series so far. It's full of excitement (mingled with sadness, though), and Jeremy gets a very active role, with Clarissa also playing a bigger role than previously. These books would make great television.
Profile Image for Meggie.
4,776 reviews
June 3, 2014
The main storyline in this book was fast paced and predictable. But even so, I enjoyed listening to an audio formatted version of this story. Jeremy and Sir John gave their best, to solve the mystery, and at the end won.
Anyway, good work!
Profile Image for Sandy Bell.
Author 6 books53 followers
December 1, 2016
I love this series. Simple, fun, entertaining, interesting characters. Sure, not book club discussion material, but that's okay. Reading for pleasure is as much fun as reading for literary brilliance. I say, "Go for it."
71 reviews
January 1, 2008
I've read several of Bruce Alexander's Sir John Fielding series and they have all been good so far. If you enjoy historical mysteries, you'll enjoy these books.
Profile Image for Joe.
Author 4 books3 followers
July 30, 2008
See my review of the initial novel in the series, Blind Justice.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.