Monday, July 07, 2008

REVIEW: Watery Grave

Title: Watery Grave
Author: Bruce Alexander
Protagonist: Sir John Fielding
Setting: London and Portsmouth, England in the 18th century
Series: #3
Rating: A

First Line: If you would be so good as to put your mind to it, you might try to imagine a storm at sea.

Things are changing in the home of Sir John Fielding above his Bow Street Court. Jeremy Proctor is fourteen now, and whenever he opens his mouth, he never knows if his voice will be high or low. Sir John has remarried. His second wife doesn't really know how to treat Jeremy, but her mind is really on the return of her son, Tom. Tom was involved in a theft and assault, and Sir John managed to steer him from the hangman's rope and into three years' service in the Royal Navy. Tom's three years are up, but when Jeremy and his mother go to meet him at the dock, it's obvious that something's happened on board the HMS Adventure. One of the lieutenants is accused of murdering the captain during a storm off the Cape of Good Hope. But there are irregularities about the charges, and Admiral Sir Robert Redmond wants his old friend, Sir John, to help him discover what really happened.

This is such an enjoyable series. Alexander is adept at bringing the 18th century to life. His characterizations are superb--from prostitutes and old sailors all the way to the gentry. You can practically smell each and every one! Added bonuses in this third book of the series are that we learn how Sir John lost his sight and we get a feeling for life in the Royal Navy during that time. Although not all comes right at the end, Sir John does manage to finagle some measure of justice for those concerned, even if it is at the price of long-cherished memories.

If you enjoy historical mysteries and have yet to try this series, what are you waiting for?

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