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...
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.
SMUGGLER’S MOON - VG 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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."