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Watery Grave

(Sir John Fielding #3)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,021 ratings  ·  70 reviews
'Blind Justice', the first novel featuring legendary eighteenth-century London judge Sir John Fielding, was one of the most highly acclaimed mystery debuts of 1994. 'Murder in Grub Street', the second novel, was named by The New York Times Book Review as one of the Notable Books of 1995 in crime fiction. Now Fielding returns in his most baffling case yet.

John Fielding was
Mass Market Paperback, 378 pages
Published August 6th 1998 by Time Warner Paperbacks (first published September 24th 1996)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  1,021 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Paul Weiss
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The rough justice of the 18th century British navy!

In 1767 off the shore of Cape of Good Hope, the crew of British naval frigate HMS Adventure encountered what, to them, must have seemed the typhoon of the century. At the height of the powerful storm, despite Lieutenant William Landon's futile rescue attempt, Captain Josiah Markham is swept off the poop deck and overboard to his death. Fully seven months later, when the Adventure returns to London, Landon is astonished to find himself accused of
Eva Müller
This feels more like a historical novel where the main character happens to solve a crime than a 'true' historical mystery. The historical detail is quite extensive (and, if I'm honest when it came to the finer points of the working of the legal system, a bit overwhelming...I just really don't care about that) and more importantly: there wasn't that much of a mystery. Fielding investigates the case of a young man who has been accused of murder by one of his comrades. There's no mystery in the qu ...more
Christopher Taylor
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
As of this book I have now read the entire John Fielding mysteries series, and in my opinion, this is the best of the set. The characterizations are very fine, the various elements of the mystery well woven, the legalities and complexities of the legal system from the time fascinating, and most of all the events not only ring true but are very engaging.

Jeremy Proctor continues to be a bit of a Mary Sue (everyone likes him, he's stronger than most, smarter than most, more skillful than most, alwa
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ratings (1 to 5)
Writing: 4
Story: 4
Characters: 4
Emotional impact: 3
Overall rating: 3.75
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blind Sir John Fielding has his assistant young Jeremy Protor to assist him in his investigations into various crimes and in this, the third novel in the Fielding series, he is asked to investigate the death of a ship's captain while on the high seas.

The captain was constantly ill, and regularly drinking and was therefore confined to his cabin. Another member of the crew took on the role of acting captain and it was he who made the accusation that another crew member had pushed the captain o
May 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Beware of uber-spoilers about the ending:

(view spoiler)
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Mysteries and investigations by a blind judge and his adoptive young boy in the 18th century in London. I liked the story mixed with the fact of History. (My second book of "Sir John" serie) ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Much better plot than #2. Decent plot twist and good new characters. Not an amazing book, but a good decent read.
Virginia Tican
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was about loyalty and justice. The Acting Captain of the HMS Adventure lodged a belated court martial inquiry against his First Officer, a well~loved and well~respected man specially by the ordinary sailors aboard the Adventure, unlike the Acting Captain. And although the Acting Captain was promoted to Captain... in the end, he still hanged with the one he accused. Sir John and Jeremy wanted justice done for the accused but the Royal Navy or those of the highest echelon who represent the in ...more
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
As with other Bruce Alexander novels I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
It was fun to read,coming from a family with a naval history, I especially enjoyed the nautical theme.

I am normally a fast reader,however Mr Alexander using the dialog of the period,I have to discipline myself to slow down and see each word,it is worth it!
The way Jeremy occasionally addresses the reader makes one feel as if he is there talking to you in person.
A great adventure story,a few chuckles,great historical characters as
Rick Rapp
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
This tale of murder(s) and deceit by Alexander is well-written as usual. It is disappointing, however realistic, that an innocent man had to be sacrificed. (The whole story is quite reminiscent of Melville's Billy Budd.) The twists and unexpected occurrences were worthy of Alexander, They built suitable tension. Alexander uses this platform to point to abuses in power and lofty organizations in order to perpetuate the myth of their infallibility. Disgusting, yes, but true to life, and unfortunat ...more
Irene B.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another interesting perspective on the mid-18th century. I enjoy the way the author inserts details about the period; in this novel, about the original intent of the "riot act". This is a sadder plot than usual, dealing with corruption in the 18th C. Royal Navy and the meaning of loyalty to an oppressive system. ...more
Sandy Shin
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
The tird Sir John Fielding book deals with the special case of the British Navy and the lengths taken to make sure the Navy's public face eas not besmirched. A harder read because of the injustice done is so disappointing, but still a book I enjoyed. ...more
Kathy Nelson
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another excellent tale of Sir John Fielding, a blind magistrate in 1760’s London. This one involves murder and the Royal Navy. The characters and description of London at the time draw the reader immediately into life at that time. 4 1/2 stars
Carolyn Rose
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting slice of time and place. Don't expect a happy Hollywood ending. This is harsh indictment of British naval "justice" at the time and of the secrets and failings of those with rank and privilege. ...more
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A murder and scandal in the Royal Navy create confusion and concern for Sir John Fielding and Jeremy in this third installment of the historical mysteries. As with any historical novel, there is always something to learn and I read about the origins of "reading the riot act". Always a good read. ...more
Marilyn Saul
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keepers, own
This was my favorite so far, and I've only one more to read in order to finish the series. ...more
Apr 05, 2021 rated it liked it
it was ok.
Paula Dembeck
This is the third book in the Sir John Fielding series.
It is about a year since the events of the last book, Murder on Grub Street. Jeremy Proctor is now 14 years old and settled in the home of Sir John who is married to the second Lady Fielding. Tom Durham, Lady Fielding's son has arrived after spending two years at sea aboard Her Majesty’s frigate the Adventure and is heartily welcomed home. But when the crew arrives in Tower Wharf we learn there is a senior officer who has been accused of mur
Bruce Alexander (like Elliot Roosevelt and Stephanie Barron) takes his detective from real life. This time, it is Sir John Fielding, the famous London Magistrate known as the "Blind Beak." His Watson is Jeremy Proctor, a young orphan Sir John has taken under his wing.

In Watery Grave, the third of the series, Sir John is approached by his old friend Sir Robert Redmond, currently Lord High Admiral of the British Royal Navy. His nephew, John Landon is an officer on the HMS Adventure and has been ac
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
“Watery Grave” is certainly one of the better historical mystery series I have read in the past 20 years. (Thanks Mary!) “Murder in Grub Street,” the second of the Sir John Fielding mysteries, was named by The New York Times Book Review as one of the Notable Books of 1995 in crime fiction. Now in “Watery Grave,” Sir John Fielding returns in one of his most perplexing cases yet, both for Fielding and the reader. Another intriguing aspect of Bruce Alexander’s historical series is that his main cha ...more
Brandy Painter
From a review originally posted here.

Watery Grave takes a place a little over a year after Murder ends. Jeremy is now a settled member of the Fielding home. Sir John has remarried and the new Lady Fielding is welcoming home her son, Tom, who has been aboard ship in the Navy for the past three years. The ship he crews has come into port with a scandal and an old Admiral friend of Sir John's asks him to help in the investigation. The Captain of the ship went overboard during a storm and the First
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was a little slow to get into this one, but once I did, I remembered why I love the series so much. Great writing. The characters are interesting, true-to-life, and seem to be accurate, historically (although I'm admittedly not an expert). The story is widely varied- gripping, grotesque, comical, heart-rending... and I'm left appreciating again Sir John's sense of justice and pursuit of truth.

Two additional thoughts:
(view spoiler)
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
January 2021 reread:
I was a tad taken aback by a relatively minor aspect of this book (which was mentioned in passing more than once) - the events in this 3rd book of the series take place about one year after the events of the first book. Yet so much has changed in the household during that time & during this book!

I had a pretty clear recollection of the plot which involves Sir John in a investigation for the Royal Navy. Each time I read this book, it reminds me of how the practices of the Roya
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Again a new author for me. Sir John Fielding is the Magistrate of the Bow Street Court in London of the 1700s and having been blinded while serving in the Navy is assisted by a young boy of 14. Jeremy is Sir Johns legs and eyes and general help around the court and living quarters which are attached. Sir John is called by an old friend in the Navy who has been put in charge of the court marshal of a Lieutenant from a Man-o-war currently at anchor of Tower Hill. When Sir Joseph hears the charges ...more
Rena Sherwood
I didn't like this book as much as the previous two since it was much sadder. I don't want to explain more than that since it would give away too many spoilers. I'm still glad I read the book and will continue with the series. I wish I knew more of the history of that time but from what I do know of it, the portrayal of the Royal Navy was accurate.


And it was just a gosh-darn interesting book in and of itself. I do recommend reading at least the first book in the series Blind Justice before this
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
Did he fall or was he pushed? From the deck of the H. M. S. Adventure in a heavy storm in 1769, that is. Sir John Fielding’s interest in this case began when the ship returned to London carrying Sir John’s stepson, Tom Durham, a crew member. The unfortunate death was that of the captain of the ship which occurred earlier in the voyage, but Lt. Landon wasn’t charged with the crime until the ship returned to London. Fielding a blind magistrate, is asked by Admiral Robert Redmond to help with the c ...more
John Lee
Jan 13, 2012 rated it liked it
The third in the series that I have read and more of Sir John's life story is revealed- his 2nd marriage which was just mentioned in the previous book and also the cause of his blindness.
The main story (pardon the pun) centres around a death on board a Navy ship and although I thoughtthat the story got a little bogged down somewhere near the middle, it finished as quite a page turner.
I have said before that I have read another series of books about Sir John Fieldings court and in Watery Grave th
Jul 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian, mystery
Another EPIC book -- a really nice surprise! Well researched, nice Victorian setting and a great mystery to boot! Well, I say mystery. There was never any doubt as to who the culprit was, only what would happen to the accused -- and that was a surprise, although one that was believably so. The story was more about the personalities and the intricacies of Victorian law. The down side of Victorian life was painted over a bit, but it was acknowledged and there, much more than say, The Death Collect ...more
Denise Kettering
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Sir John Fielding and his young helper Jeremy Proctor return in the third installment of the Sir John Fielding mystery series. The story unravels at a pace that is easy to follow, but keeps the reader on her toes as she follows the plot through its many twists and turns. The historical details are very accurate and realistic throughout this series, a trend that continues in this book. In this book, Sir John and Jeremy set out to solve a mystery that occurred on the HMS Adventure, where Sir John' ...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)
  • Murder in Grub Street (Sir John Fielding, #2)
  • 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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