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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

Where to start? These stores are a sort of reverse Sherlock Holmes. The protagonist, a thief, takes the man who chronicles his adventures with him on his capers, and these stories are set in roughly the same time period and in mostly similar places. Whereas, however, Doyle wrote with wonderful fl...more

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 -...more

It would be impossible to read "The Amateur Cracksman" -- the first of E.W. Hornung's books featuring gentleman thief A.J. Raffles and his sidekick and chronicler Bunny -- without comparing it to the Sherlock Holmes books. Hornung, after all, was Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, and he create...more

The embodiment of fin de siècle decadence, dashing A. J. Raffles artfully commits crime for crime's sake. Bored with life as a master cricketer, Raffles turns to a life of crime to stifle his ennui -- and pad his purse. His conscience-bitten sidekick, Bunny, accompanies him as he burgles Victoria...more

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, log...more

A.J. Raffles periodically re-surfaces as a classic character of popular fiction, and just as quickly drops out of sight again, exactly as E.W. Hornung frequently describes him doing in the 26 short stories and single novel that he devoted to Raffles - about half the output that Arthur Conan Doyle...more

Sherlock Holmes was written by Conan Doyle but his brother in law got sick of him & his ego going and on about Holmes so he decided to put pen to paper but instead of dective he created a Robin Hood style anti hero Raffles

An utterly delightful romp; more fun than Holmes.

January 2011

Good news, Americans! You don't have to know anything about cricket to read and enjoy this!

Meet A. J. Raffles: gentleman, independent bachelor, London man-about-town, champion cricketeer--er, cricketman--I mean, player-of-cricket--and...thief? Surely not! Surely so: how else could thi...more

Raffles is such an appealing character that it is a wonder that no other writer has quite captured his spirit. He is one of a class of well-educated young nineteenth-century swells, fit for earning no living, having apparently inherited no fortune, yet expected to live like gentlemen of means.

In...more

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