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The Amateur Cracksman

E. W. Hornung

Book Overview: 

The Amateur Cracksman is the first collection of stories about A. J. Raffles, gentleman, cricketer, and thief. After stopping his old school friend, Bunny Manders, from a desperate attempt at suicide, Raffles introduces the unsuspecting Bunny to a new way of earning a living, burglary. Though frequently horrified by Raffles’s actions, the conscience-stricken Bunny stands by him through all their adventures, firm to his promise, “When you want me, I’m your man!”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .That he could carry his character-sketch to such a pitch—he who would only smoke one brand of cigarette! It was the last, least touch of the insatiable artist, and it charmed away what mortification there still remained in me. Once more I felt the fascination of a comrade who was forever dazzling one with a fresh and unsuspected facet of his character.

As we neared Piccadilly I wondered what he would do. Surely he was not going into the Albany like that? No, he took another omnibus to Sloane Street, I sitting behind him as before. At Sloane Street we changed again, and were presently in the long lean artery of the King's Road. I was now all agog to know our destination, nor was I kept many more minutes in doubt. Raffles got down. I followed. He crossed the road and disappeared up a dark turning. I pressed after him, and was in time to see his coat-tails as he plunged into a still darker flagged alley to the right. He was holding himself up and . . . Read More

Community Reviews

the idea of raffles, the gentleman thief, obverse of the legendary sherlock holmes, gentleman detective (the creation of hornung's esteemed brother-in-law arthur conan doyle), thrills me. and i can't say i don't normally adore the idea of working outside the law to balance the scales of justice -- i

This has never come across my radar before, but decided to give it a go. Horning was directly inspired by the success of his bother-in-law Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and Raffles neatly inverts the Holmes formula - Raffles is a cricket-playing gentleman jewel thief and his sidekick

This is a fun collection of inter-connected short stories. I want to emphasize the inter-connected part because they come almost-but-not-quite to the level of a novel rather than feeling like short stories. One story leads to another. Otto Penzler's introduction to this edition says: It has been spe

Well enough written but absolutely mind-numbing. Raffles is a dick and Bunny is caught in his headlights.

Written as an anti-hero with his brother-in-law's real hero in sight (Holmes), I can only suggest he failed miserably to redress the balance.

Raffles and Bunny are two young gentlemen with large debts and no desire to work for a living. They turn to crime, specifically burglary, to continue to live their lives of idle luxury. The stories are clearly inspired by and partially parodies of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Raffles is cold, logica

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