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Person or Persons Unknown

(Sir John Fielding #4)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  975 ratings  ·  61 reviews
John Fielding was famous not only as cofounder of London's first police force, the Bow Street Runners, but also as a magistrate of keen intellect, fairness and uncommon detective ability. What made this all the remarkable was that he was blind. Now with his young assistant and ward, Jeremy Proctor, Fielding faces a series of crimes that hit shockingly close to home. Prosti ...more
Paperback, 325 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Berkley Prime Crime Books (first published 1997)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  975 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Christopher Taylor
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another fine entry in the John Fielding series. In this one, the blind Magistrate who basically invented the modern police force in mid-1700s England faces a brutal serial killer. Someone is targeting prostitutes, either one careful stab or hacking them to pieces and leaving their bodies to rot.

Or is it more than one person? Young Jeremy Proctor, the narrator, finds himself increasingly involved in the investigations as he grows, and several times directly in danger, not just to his body, but th
Paul Weiss
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Much more atmospheric than mysterious!

As if life for the working class in 1770 London wasn't difficult enough, Covent Garden becomes the haunting ground for an 18th century version of Jack the Ripper. A psychopathic killer is targeting the local street ladies and blind magistrate John Fielding knows the savagely brutal murders will continue until he apprehends the killer and brings him to English justice at the end of a rope on Tyburn gallows!

Despite being an easy-reading lightweight historical
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I freely admit that I disliked (okay, hated!) the conclusion of the 3rd book in this series -- so much so that it was over a year before I could convince myself to give the fourth book a chance.

I'm happy to say that I appreciated this book a great deal more. A very good thriller, and I continue to really like most of the characters in this series (and for all that I appreciate a good mystery, I find that for most books it's the characters that keep me hooked). I like youthful Jeremy, and I reall
John Lee
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
My fourth of the series and as enjoyable as the first. I particularly enjoy keeping up with the progress of Jeremy and watching the development of the other regulars. I suppose that this is similar to the admiration that some have for soaps.
I have the fifth of the set ready as my next read. Definitely 4* but pushing for the fifth.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite in the series thus far, excpet perhaps the first one.
Waverly Fitzgerald
Reading my way slowly and with great delight through the Bruce Alexander series about Sir John Fielding, the "Blind Beak," judge, and in this book, temporary coroner, who organized the Bow Street runners. The series is narrated by Jeremy Proctor, a young boy who was adopted by Feilding in the first book in the series, who is eager to "read law." He serves both as "eyes" for Feilding and eyes for the reader, since he's an outsider, just learning about the law and about how to weigh evidence and t ...more
Julie Guzzetta
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-ish, mysteries
This was a book that I've had for ages and only recently re-discovered in the process of moving. I decided to give it a try before giving it away, and it ended up being really interesting! It took me a while to read, again because of the pandemic and not being much in the mood for reading, but there was something about it that kept me going. I couldn't necessarily tell you everything that happened in the book - it was almost like a "day in the life of" the main character Jeremy. Except, it was e ...more
Virginia Tican
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fading echoes of Jack the Ripper... The whores of Covent Garden were the particular recipients of the cold and bloody hands of Death in this baffling case. For one prostitute dies with a direct and single penetrating stiletto wound to the heart and then another one gets mutilated and disemboweled and her organs scattered. Were there 2 killers based on the different methods and weapons used? What Sir John needed was a good coroner and specially one he could trust given mostly still warm corpses w ...more
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fourth installment in the historical mystery series featuring Sir John Fielding. Told from the standpoint of Sir John's 15 year old ward, however he is a grown man that we learn has become a lawyer himself.
This installment involves a madman leaving a string of bodies across London. This is a story not for the squeamish. Of course it is up to Sir John to get to the bottom of who the Person or Persons Unknown is responsible for the carnage.
Well balanced story which includes stories of each ch
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Jack-the-Ripper style murderer is abroad in Covent Garden, and it's up to Sir John Fielding to find the fiend - - dubbed person or persons unknown - - and protect the vulnerable women of the street. This is the 4th book in the Sir John Fielding series. Although it's a mystery story, it's also a coming of age story for young Jeremy Proctor, his assistant and protégé. He continues to learn to navigate the world's that come together in the Bow Street Court of Justice. ...more
Kathy Nelson
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another great read by Bruce Alexander in his Sir John Fielding mystery series. It takes place in 1700’s London with the main character, Sir John Fielding, a real historical Englishman who founded the first police department in London. It is well written and paints a realistic picture of life during that period. Highly recommend the series.
Sandy Shin
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
The fourth Sir John Fielding book has two vicious killers prowling London and we get a better picture of life in and around Convent Garden and discover the Fleet River. The mix of mystery and human interactions is riveting and the hint of Jack the Ripper is enticing
Stacie  Haden
Excellent series! Bruce Alexander wrote in such a way that you feel it was written in 1770, without the confusion and archaic language you would find in a book actually written in 1770. He also found that magical key that makes you care for the characters.

London, 1770
An Odd1
Told from the point of view of 15-year grown old assistant Jeremy, 1770s London is an intriguing setting peopled by a fascinating cast. I'd like to find out how Sir John was blinded, and married his present wife. I look forward to more in the series. ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love the civility and elegance of language in these history-packed mysteries. Each main character is admirable.
Marilyn Saul
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A little to much of Jeremy fantasizing about Mariah, but, other than that, another great read by Alexander.
Carolyn Rose
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Ripper-inspired tale that held my attention. Well written with plenty of building suspense.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it

Writing 4
Story line 4
Characters 4
Emotional impact 4

Overall rating 4
Jeanne Nichols
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Sir John Fielding once again, although blind, is able to see the best route to the finding of who did murder. Good series.
Paula Dembeck
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it
This is book 4 in the Sir John Fielding Mystery Series.
Once again we join Sir John Fielding’s assistant Jeremy Proctor, who has been living with Sir John for two years and is now fifteen. We are reintroduced to the core characters and brought up to date. Annie is now the cook in the kitchen at the Fielding home and has replaced Mrs. Gredge. Lady Fielding, Sir John’s second wife is busy overseeing the operations of the Magdalene Home for Penitent Prostitutes, and Sir John has recently taken on
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another thrilling page turner; "Person or Persons Unknown" is the fourth book in Bruce Alexander’s mystery series centering on Sir John Fielding and young Jeremy Proctor. Although I recognize some folks did not like this one quite as well, I think it was one of his best; regardless, I love this series and I especially enjoy watching the evolving relationship between Sir John and Jeremy and many of the other characters. Therefore, I do recommend that one reads the books in order to fully apprecia ...more
Rena Sherwood
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was a good mystery. It showed character development of not only our fearless/fearful narrator Jeremy Proctor, but of Sir John Fielding. I do recommend this, provided you have read at least one of the previous books in the series, but there does seem to be a little juice lacking here this time around.


This is basically Jack the Ripper set in 1770. Since there was a lack of trying to find the killer(s) in the text, it is mostly taken up with Jeremy's struggles to woo a whore and learn self-defen
Denise Kettering
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
While this book is not as strong as the earlier works in the Sir John Fielding mystery series, it is still a solid entry in an engaging series. However, readers should be warned that this book contains some very gruesome details and be prepared for some of the violence and descriptive language. The book contains plot twists that have made this series interesting and make the books such good mysteries. Jeremy Proctor's voice as a narrator does at times grow tiring in his continuous praise for Sir ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
It seems strange that a book about the murder and mutilation of prostitutes can be a book one can enjoy or recommend, but that in fact is true. This is the fourth book in Alexander’s series about Sir John Fielding, a magistrate and social reformer in 18th century England who with his brother, novelist Henry Fielding, organized the Bow Street Runners, Britain’s first police force. The main fictional character in these novels is Jeremy Proctor, a teen-ager who Fielding had taken in to his home an ...more
I've been reading very slowly and sporadically of late because of a non-book project I've been spending time at, so it took me a while to get through this book. It's the fourth in Alexander's series about Sir John Fielding, who began the Bow Street Runners, the forerunners of the British bobby. The tales are told by Jeremy Proctor, a young orphan who's taken under Sir John's wing. In this book they deal with a series of murders of prostitutes a la Jack the Ripper, but of course with even fewer r ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In this installment, Jeremy is reflecting upon when to trust especially after it has been betrayed. As a 15 year old, he fell half in love with a prostitute whom he had first encountered as part of a family acrobat troop. Her pimp offers to sell her on to Jeremy. Meanwhile, prostitutes are being killed the first with a stiletto to the heart very exact, the second a more brutal affair with organs strewn about. Are they connected or is more than one psycho running about? Do they know the killer? I ...more
Jina Howell-Forbes
This book is the continuation of a series of fictionalized accounts of Sir John Fielding, Magistrate of the Bow Street Court in London in the 1760's and 70's, as told through the eyes of his fictional teen-age ward, Jeremy Proctor. John fielding was blinded in an accident at the age of 19 while in the Royal Navy, so he was blind during his career as a judge.

This series is filled with historical detail of the time and place, the adventure of crime and the legal system, and the relationships of al
Mark Bruce
Jul 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
The fourth in the series of Sir John Fielding books. Someone is killing the prostitutes of London, but the killer is not being consistent. Why is that?

This is a charming series in which the narrator begins as a street urchin, taken in by Sir John. He tells you in the beginning that he grows to be a barrister, but the fun and excitement of this book is in seeing how the narrator grows. The late Mr. Alexander also had a taste for the atmosphere and personalities of 18th Century London.

Truly, an e
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
The first book I have read in the Sir John Fielding series. Sir John is a blind English magistrate in the 18th century and his 15-year old protégé and ward, Jeremy Proctor, is the book's narrator. Jeremy is mature beyond his years yet has the same hormones of any 15-year old boy. When a series of shocking murders occur in London, it is Jeremy who is the eyes and legs of Sir John as they track down the killer (or killers?). An excellent, gripping read, although some of the language is a challenge ...more
Dec 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Actually I think I would give this 3.5 stars but that isn't an option. It's the first Sir John Fielding mystery I have read and did like it. A bit gruesome in parts, which I don't really expect in these historical mysteries. Doing anything to a dead body, besides burying it decently, is a bit hard to take in any time period's language. I expect I'll read others in this series in the future though. The relationship between the narrator and Sir John Fielding keeps your attention. ...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)
  • Watery Grave (Sir John Fielding, #3)
  • 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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