Sniffing a set-up when he oversees a seemingly open-and-shut case involving a murdered printer and a raving poet, Sir John Fielding is aided by thirteen-year-old Jeremy Proctor and uncovers a sinister truth. Reprint. PW. NYT.
In my opinion, "Murder in Grub Street" is slightly superior to "Blind Justice" partly because the characters whom we already know become more fully rounded, as Sir John Fielding officially welcomes Jeremy Proctor into his household, and their relationship becomes more akin to father-son.
Jeremy Proctor's virtue and his elevated manner of speech might be cause for some annoyance, but he is NOT a complete goody-two shoes, and one of the seminal occurrences in this novel is when he gets into a street brawl with sneak thief, Jimmy Bunkins, a lad about Jeremy's own age.
The brawl between Jeremy and Bunkins becomes occasion for Sir John to actually regard Jeremy as a son who has, on this occasion, disappointed him, and we see how Sir John deals with a situation in which Jeremy has, for the first time, failed to meet his expectations.
Jeremy's antagonist, Bunkins, communicates not in the King's English but in his street "cant" (slang), which is remarkably easy for the reader to follow, and he becomes a key figure in the story and will presumably figure again in this series. Bunkins's morally-flawed but street-wise personality makes him a good foil to Jeremy.
When he warns Jeremy, "You'll do nicks to me, for I see no Beak-runners by your side, nor barking irons in your daddles", I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I had no trouble interpreting this to mean, "You'll do nothing to me, for I don't see any officers of the law with you or any guns in your pockets.Read more ›