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The Color of Death: A Sir John Fielding Mystery Hardcover – November 6, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Sir John Fielding
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (November 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399146482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399146480
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,395,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sir John Fielding, a blind 18th-century London judge, is back in his Bow Street offices along with his young assistant Jeremy in this seventh installment in Bruce Alexander's well-crafted, intricately plotted series. When a crime spree in a well-to-do neighborhood not far from Sir John's home turns from robbery to murder, and witnesses identify the perpetrators as black men, the focus shifts from police work to prejudice. When the criminals are ultimately revealed to be white men in blackface, Jeremy and Sir John must look deeper into the hearts and minds of their neighbors to discover the real motive for the attacks and cast off their own biases before solving the crime. Alexander draws an accurate picture of racial hypocrisy in an era when slavery, though banned in England, was permitted in its colonies. He gets all the period details right, and his two sleuths get more interesting with every new outing in this historical series. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Effectively combining the formality of 18th-century London with lively storytelling, the pseudonymous Alexander weds a tale of brutal robberies to the famous Somerset case, which revealed the many inconsistencies of British law as applied to slaves and slave ownership, in this latest outing for blind magistrate Sir John Fielding. A gang of robbers has begun invading wealthy homes, gaining entrance by subterfuge, herding the household staff into cellar or kitchen and in short order making off with as many valuables as possible. Organized and effective, the gang is also deadlyDexecuting one man and threatening others who hesitate to cooperate. The gang is notable because all its members appear to be black men. As more robberies occur, the outrage grows and threatens respectable blacks such as tutor Robert Burnham and Frank Barber, a member of Samuel Johnson's household. The criminals are even bold enough to attempt an attack on Sir John himself. Sir John provides the brain power and education while young Jeremy Proctor, his assistant and narrator, supplies legs, eyes and enthusiasm. Since the introduction of their partnership in Blind Justice (1994), this series has built a loyal following among sophisticated readers who appreciate the accurate period details. With its insights into the British legal system and the peculiar institution of slavery (then banned but still in evidence in Britain), Alexander offers food for thought as well as first-class entertainment that will gain him new fans. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on November 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Another brilliant instalment in the Sir John Fielding & Jeremy Proctor mystery series. As usual Bruce Alexander provides us with an intirguing mystery novel with another in depth look at 18th century England and the judicial system of the time.
In this latest Sir John Fielding adventure, a highly organised group of rather violent thieves are terrorising the wealthier inhabitants of London. And when a servant is murdered in cold blood, Sir John Fielding and the Bow Street Runners are sent for. During the course of the investigations, it comes to light that the murderous thieves were all black men. This throws Sir John a little as he has hitherto had very little to do with the coloured community of London and so is a little unsure as to how to proceed. However on the way home from this crime, Sir John is shot at by a black man. And because of his wounds is forced to delegate more of the investigation to his able aide, Jeremy Proctor.
The next day brings news of another violent theft. However this time doubt is thrown as to whether all the men in the gang are actually black. A witness claims to recognise one of the gang and claims that he is definitely not coloured. However before this lead can be properly investigated, the owner of the latest house to be burgalarised identifies a friend of Jeremy's as the leader of the criminal gang. Sir John and Jeremy will have to work very hard to sift through all the evidence and to discard fact from prejudice, especially as the accused has decided not to cooperate with Sir John on principle.
This mystery novel was a riverting read with well developed characters and an ingenious plot. Definitely deserving a five star rating.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on November 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An eighteenth century London home invasion by an efficient and murderous gang of black men leads off this seventh in the Sir John Fielding series. Summoned to the St. James Street great house by his Bow Street constabulary, blind magistrate Sir John and his young assistant, the narrator Jeremy Proctor, discover that the departing gang cold-bloodedly executed a servant.
On their way home Fielding is ambushed and shot by a black man, presumably one of the gang. While not seriously wounded, Fielding must rely on Jeremy to lead the case, quickly complicated by another robbery and an accusation by the powerful victim, who demands the arrest of a distinguished black teacher.
Jeremy's voice, a perfect blend of oversensitive youth and resourceful investigator, animates this well-plotted tale of social and racial distinctions and prejudices and 1700s police procedure. Earnest and likeable, with just the right amount of hot-headed initiative and youthful misapprehensions, Jeremy is clever, humorous and observant. Smart as Jeremy is, though, only Sir John can put together the big picture.
Effortless prose, lifelike characters, a fast-paced plot and street scenes teeming with rogues and toffs make this a standout.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JOHN A. BROUSSARD on September 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The investigator in this novel set in the late 1700�s is a blind magistrate, Sir John Fielding. His primary source of information is his young assistant, Jeremy Proctor. The story begins with the report of a burglary and robbery in an exclusive part of London not far from Sir John�s residence and chambers. On investigation, Jeremy and Sir John find the home has been stripped bare of its valuables, and one of the servants has been killed in the process. The other servants at the house tell Jeremy and his master that the intruders were black men. The novel then consists of a search for the criminals, as several more robberies�evidently by the same crew�occur in the district. Alexander has here written a novel whose leisurely pace matches that of the era he writes about. Its strong point is the picture it draws of London, its streets, markets and customs of that era. For the reader looking for the break-neck speed of the typical novel set in the current age, THE COLOR OF DEATH will be a disappointment. But for anyone more interested in a stroll through a different time and place, this will provide an evening or two of entertainment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard R on August 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The seventh in Bruce Alexander's series about blind 18th century London magistrate Sir John Fielding, who is a real historical character. "The Color of Death" is the story of a series of burglaries apparently committed by a gang of black men. Like the six books that came before, it is a quick and fun weekend read. Not deep, not thoughtful, not even terribly mysterious as far as pop mysteries go. It's straightforward and forgettable. Enjoy it in a hammock.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brian Siegel on September 11, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is not much to say, just that it is another fantastic books in this most excellent series. The stories are always fresh and don't repeat themselves from book to book. You will find yourself getting to know the principal characters like a memeber of your extended family.I have read ALL the books in this series(Just in case you are not sure,the first one is 'Blind Justice')I await the next one......
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Carroll VINE VOICE on June 3, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THE COLOR OF DEATH is an eminently satisfying mystery. A gang of thieves are ransacking London homes, and the thieves are identified as black men. This throws Sir John into a mystery that has political and social ramifications that only a quick resolution will keep from turning into a major disaster for London's citizens. With an attempt on his life incapacitating him, Sir John turns to his assistant, Jeremy to be the lead investigator on this case. Alexander presents a clever mystery, which portrays a number of this series' regulars in a new light. Even the nature of Sir John and Jeremy's relationship shows some change, allowing Jeremy to show more maturity and giving the reader an intriguing glimpse into what motivates Sir John's gamesmanship. This one is a fine puzzle, which should be enjoyed by any fan of historical mysteries.
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