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AN Experiment in Treason: A Sir John Fielding Mystery (Sir John Fielding Mysteries) Hardcover – October 14, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sir John Fielding and his young prot‚g‚, Jeremy Proctor, those delightful Georgian versions of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, get mixed up in pre-Revolutionary War intrigue in their ninth outing (after 2001's Smuggler's Moon). A burglary of the home of the British secretary of state for colonial affairs turns violent, leading to the disappearance of some valuable letters that may be connected with the incipient rebellion in Massachusetts. While Sir John, the legendary Blind Beak of Bow Street, sits and thinks, Jeremy functions as his eyes and legs, interviewing witnesses, conducting surveillance and further developing his detective skills. Jeremy's burgeoning relationship with a servant girl adds depth to the drama. The sleuths enlist the aid of the legendary Samuel Johnson when the government, which is weighing the political merits of charging American patriots with treason, wants American envoy Benjamin Franklin interrogated as a suspect. Alexander evokes the period without anachronisms of word or thought to jar the reader. Franklin himself comes across as a fully realized character, with his strengths and frailties both on display. Given the relative unimportance of the puzzle element of the plot, this work ranks a little below Blind Justice and the superb Watery Grave. Still, Alexander's creations are as full of life and interest as when they debuted, a formidable accomplishment for a long series, one that mystery fans should hope has many more entries to come.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Sir John Fielding Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (October 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399149236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399149238
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,512,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Carroll VINE VOICE on September 21, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
AN EXPERIMENT IN TREASON is a rather weak addition to this fine series. Basing the case on actual historical events involving Franklin and some rather interesting letters that became available for public consumption in the states; Alexander had a good idea, but the execution is lacking. Franklin comes off as a caracature of himself, a bit of an old lech, (which he may have been but I believe he may have been a bit more circumspect in an unfamiliar environment like Sir John's home.)who was rather lacking in the wit or the intellect that is so celebrated in many of his biographies. Even the tales involving Sir John's household were particularly weak, involving an unfortunate return of Lady Fielding's son from the navy. While I appear to be in the minority on this one; I feel this book is lacking the quality of mystery and character development that is the norm for Alexander's generally excellent historical mysteries.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karin on March 10, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story "An Experiement in Treason" was by no means the best of the series. The story is a little slow and not much excitement is happening. The reader is left with little sympathy for the murder victim and thus not much interest in solving this crime.

Benjamin Franklin is being portrayed as a bumbling fool who at best is just full of air. He was apparently terribly afraid of the magistrate, to be found in the worst of pubs, drinking and in the company of whores (several at a time!) and at other times making advances to an underage girl while eating at her guardians dinner table. His scientific experiements where foolish and, of course, did not amount to much. Even I, who is not an american citizen, must say, that Alexander seems to have a chip on his shoulder about this particular part of Anglo/American history. I loved almost all the other stories in this series.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Most series go into a decline long before they reach the ninth installment. Not so with Bruce Alexander's wonderful creation. This latest volume is my personal favorite thus far. The characters and richness of period detail would be enough to make the books worth reading, even without the mystery plots. The characters have become like old friends. The books have an appeal much like Sherlock Holmes, which make you want to visit just for the atmosphere and interaction among the characters. Jeremy is back, but alas, he has outgrown his green coat. Sir John is as formidable and perceptive as always. Bruce Alexander has the ability to include actual historical figures (Ben Franklin in this case) without seeming contrived. Since the plot has already been summarized, I will only add that these books are worth buying--in hardback--because you will want to re-read them and pass them to friends. I hope this series continues, because I am hooked!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Louis M. Perdue on June 27, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the ninth entry in the Sir John Fielding mystery series and will be the penultimate as the author passed away earlier this year. There is a tenth, and last, book available.
In the book, Fielding and his apprentice Jeremy Proctor are investigating the theft of some letters from the residence of a high-ranking official in London, an official that is dealing with the American colonies. The time period being pre-Revolutionary War means that the letters are related to the Americans creating problems. Benjamin Franklin appears and plays quite a major role in the book and I like the way the author fleshed out his character, showing both his genius and his faults (mainly his womanizing).
While there is not a lot of action in this book, the period descriptions make up for that. As well, the furthering of Jeremy's personal relationships makes this one of the better and more interesting books in the series and that is saying a lot considering most of the series has been excellent.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This series has replaced Anne Perry's series as my choice for the best historical detective fiction around. The mysteries are always tightly plotted and believable and the characters, from the stars to the supporting players, are intricately drawn and unforgettable. These books are just a tremendous reading experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like most other reviewers of "An Experiment in Treason," I have also read all of the earlier books in this series. I too found this one to be one of the best in the series. Bruce Alexander (who are you, anyway?) is an excellent writer, who combines well-crafted mysteries with an evocative feel for eighteenth-century London. It has been interesting to see how the relationship between Sir John Fielding and Jeremy Proctor has evolved. I especially enjoyed this volume in the series because of the introduction of Benjamin Franklin. Earlier this year I visited Philadelphia and I bought the first in a series of mysteries featuring Benjamin Franklin as the detective ("Benjamin Franklin Takes the Case," by Robert Lee Hall). That book reminded me of Bruce Alexander's series because Franklin has a young assistant, Nick Handy, who plays a similar role to that of Jeremy Proctor. So in this book, it was fun seeing Franklin as the subject of an investigation, rather than the instigator of one. I highly recommend all of the books in this series, with "An Experiment in Treason" near the top of my list for favorites.
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