Putnam, Oct 2002, 24.95, 288 pp.
He may be blind but Sir John Fielding is regarded as one of the most intelligent magistrates in 1793 London. He presides as a judge in court and leads investigations on matters that are sensitive to England's interests. Lord Hillsborough, the Secretary of State for the American Colonies, is robbed and one of the footmen is dead. He tells Sir John that he has no idea what the burglars were after but the magistrate doesn't believe him.
After he reports to his superior, Sir John is ordered to once again visit Lord Hillsborough who promises to be forthcoming. He says a packet of letters were stolen but he won't say how many or what was in them. Sir John's assistant, Jeremy traces the purloined letters to Ben Franklin and his confederate Arthur Lee. The latter is seen boarding a ship heading to the colonies and Jeremy presumes the letters are on board. Sir John is really not interested in the politics but he is interested in justice and will do all in his power to see the killer go to jail no matter who it is.
It is fascinating to read about the English perspective on the troublesome English colonies and how far radicals will go in support of their solution. Bruce Alexander is a fine storyteller and the historical detail he brings to the plot only enhances the quality of AN EXPERIMENT IN TREASON. Readers will continue to read the Sir John Fielding mysteries because they are excellent period pieces.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner