The crime appeared as easily solved as it was wicked. A Grub Street printer, his family, and two apprentices brutally murdered in their sleep. A locked building. And at the scene, a raving mad poet brandishing a bloody axe. Surely the culprit had been found, and justice would be swift and severe.
But to Sir John Fielding, justice was more than finding a culprit-it was finding the truth. Aided by thirteen-year-old Jeremy Proctor, Fielding decided to investigate further. And the truth behind the Grub Street massacre was more evil-and more deadly-than the dastardly crime itself.
The lusty life of London's Covent Garden-and its diverse practitioners-highlights the second appearance of blind Sir John Fielding, an 18th-century magistrate first met in Blind Justice. Jeremy Proctor, Sir John's 13-year-old ward, has been hired by Grub Street publisher/bookseller Ezekiel Crabb. But the night before the apprenticeship is to begin, Crabb, his family and two employees die in a hideous massacre. Houseguest and rustic poet John Clayton, found dazed with ax in hand, is taken into custody. But Fielding is not satisfied with the evidence. In pursuit of the truth, he enlists the help of the Bow Street Runners, Samuel Johnson (but not Boswell), a pickpocket, a gambler, another publisher and, of course, Jeremy. More murders and a torched synagogue lead to a band of religious zealots who have come from Monongahela in the American colonies to convert London's Jews. Still needing facts, Fielding sets a trap that snares the villains in a stunning double climax. Especially noteworthy are scenes of Sir John in action at the Bow Street Court, dispensing practical justice to Londoners high and low. (Oct.)