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Book Review: The Amateur Cracksman

The Amateur Cracksman by E.W. Hornung
The classic Victorian tales of Raffles, Test cricketer by day and gentleman thief by night. Ably assisted by his very close friend Bunny, the duo are a Victorian crime wave in this frothy yet dark wonderful read.

The Ides of March
After gambling himself into penury Bunny looks up his old school friend Raffles for aid. Raffles who turns out to be as broke as Bunny offers assistance. So the duo burgle a jewelery store. Bunny who cannot fathom the concept of getting a job joins the more experienced Raffles in his secret life of crime. This was good.

A Costume Piece
Raffles and Bunny plan to rob a diamond merchant however their target is neither as drunk or as stupid as he lets on and their robbery goes violently awry. However Raffles skills with accents and costumes saves the day, just about. This was good.

Gentlemen and Players
Raffles' skills at cricket gets the duo an invite to a country estate. They plan to burgle their hosts, naturally. However a rival pack of burglers and Raffles nemesis Mackenzie of Scotland Yard are already in residence. This was good.

Le Premier Pas
Raffles tells Bunny of how he committed his first crime. This was okay.

Wilful Murder
When Raffles fence uncovers Raffles real identity, Raffles decides to murder the potential blackmailer. Bunny goes along with it as he does everything else Raffles comes up with. However the murder attempt is not as simple as they planned. This was good.

Nine Points of the Law
Raffles and Bunny are hired to steal back a stolen Velasquez painting. It all gets very complicated. This was good.

The Return Match
One of the burglers from 'Gentlemen and Players' has escaped Dartmoor. He ends up in Raffles home demanding assistance. The duo have to help because Mackenzie of the Yard is right outside. This was good.

Best Line:
"In a dense fog on the moor yesterday good old Crawshay made a bolt for it, and got away without a scratch under heavy fire. All honor to him, I agree, a fellow with that much grit deserves his liberty."

The Gift of the Emperor
Raffles and Bunny go on a cruise to steal a fabulous pearl. However this time Raffles has reached too high and Mackenzie of the Yard has them to rights. This is okay and the ending is sad. Poor devoted Bunny is again a victim of Raffles awesome selfishness.

Best Line:
"Why should I work when I could steal?"

"Got your gun?"
"Yes."
"Got your shooter?"
"Yes."
"Then follow me."

"I've one o'these for you,...only not such a long one."
Tags: book review, raffles
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