Person or Persons Unknown

Bruce Alexander, Author Putnam Publishing Group $22.95 (279p) ISBN 978-0-399-14309-0
Alexander once again evokes the seamier side of 18th-century London to winning effect. A serial killer is slaughtering prostitutes in London's Covent Garden, circa 1770, challenging Bow Street's blind magistrate Sir John Fielding and his teenage assistant, Jeremy Proctor, in their fourth adventure (Watery Grave, etc.). A stiletto, thrust once with surgical precision, killed the first victim, but the second woman was horribly mutilated. Could more than one maniac be about? Sir John, temporarily serving as coroner, drafts young Jeremy to unearth evidence. As the murders mount, Jeremy revels in his new responsibility but fears for a young Italian prostitute named Mariah, with whose exotic beauty he has become infatuated. Suspicion first falls on bayonet-equipped guards from the Tower of London, since one victim was seen talking to a soldier. Then Sir John and Jeremy turn their attention to Mr. Tolliver, the local butcher, and Mr. Millicent, the nervous neighbor of the second victim. Told with a youthful sense of wonder by Jeremy, the story reveals an 18th-century London rife with dangers, class distinctions and religious tensions rooted, in this case, in anti-Semitism. Alexander provides rich period detail and a wonderful supporting cast--from the one-armed constable who shepherds Jeremy through the narrow streets to a busy collector of indigent corpses known as The Raker--making this story intriguing from first page to last. BOMC alternate; audio rights to Books on Tape. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 336 pages - 978-0-425-16566-9
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