By day, AJ Raffles is a debonair man-about-town and one of England's finest cricketers. By night - he's London's most notorious thief! Classic crime to rival Sherlock Holmes.
If you walk down London's Piccadilly, you come across an elegant Georgian building set back from the constant stream of traffic. This is The Albany, an imposing warren of 'bachelor' apartments which has been home to a string of celebrities for over two centuries, from Lord Byron to Terence Stamp. But The Albany was also the address for one of the greatest fictional creations of late 19th-century crime writing, AJ Raffles.
The author, E.W. Hornung was not as well-known as his brother-in-law, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, yet in many ways, Hornung was a better writer and Raffles a cleverer star then even Sherlock himself. For Raffles operates on the wrong side of the law, yet remains a magnetic and sympathetic personality.
On the surface, Raffles is a gentleman cricketer straight out of the pages of Boy's Own - yet from the very first story, The Ides of March, we discover that this is all a pretence: behind the mask is a bankrupt who commits a series of sensational crimes to finance his champagne and cigars lifestyle - and his flat in The Albany.
What separates Raffles from Holmes is that he's more recognizably human and fallible - he doesn't always lift the loot, and bad luck throws him a few curve balls. Whether the setting is an English country house or the Australian outback, Raffles's diamond-hard determination, his lightning ingenuity and profound knowledge of human nature are always on display, and though he could have been hanged for any one of these crimes, Raffles remains a man you wouldn't mind sharing a cocktail or two with during a night out on the town.
Public Domain (P)2013 Creative Content
Raffles the daring gentleman thief was a popular short story character in the early years of the 20th century and I was pleased that this audiobook includes all 8 stories from Hornung's first published collection of 1899: The Ides of March; A Costume Piece; Gentlemen and Players; Le Premier Pas; Wilful Murder; Nine Points of the Law; The Return Match; and The Gift of the Emperor.
David Rintoul has a fine voice and is a suitable narrator for these adventures of the upper class financially-challenged A J Raffles and his scared-but-willing associate Bunny Manders. The stories make for a diverting listen (though not in the class of Conan Doyle) with an attractive anti-hero, and vividly conjure up the elegant lost world of wealthy Late Victorian London. They are, though, very tame compared either to Holmes or to more modern fare. A dreadful fault on this recording is the lack of any pause whatsoever between the stories, which ruins the end of each story and destroys the concentration.
"lot of fun"
a little like a Sherlock as thief idea. he has a cohort who helps much like Watson and who may have written their adventures down later in life. the episodes are fun and suspenseful and having done it shortly after To Catch a Thief found some similarities that make me think Dodge had read this, but both are very enjoyable nonetheless.
"Raffles and Bunny Are Bad. And That’s Good."
Ok, say these stories weren’t penned by Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law. Say there was no Arthur Conan Doyle, no Holmes-Watson stories—no model for the author of Raffles to stand on its head for his own purposes.
The Raffles-Bunny stories would still be delightful; well-crafted, well-written and, in this instance, superbly read. One critic has called them, "dark, morally uncertain, yet convincingly, reassuringly English." It’s that last part that makes them so palatable. Raffles and Bunny play fair; they eschew violence and, in spite of Bunny’s regular attacks of nerves, go about their larcenous activities lightheartedly, as if it were just another match on the playing fields of Eton.
I suppose one could explore the inner meaning of our delight; how we all yearn to be the bad guy, revel in the thrill of flouting authority, need to unchain the old Id once in a while. On second thought, better not. Just stand back and enjoy.
Watson often opines that if Holmes ever turned to crime he would be uncatchable. Sadly, in the last story of this volume an arrest is made. But fear not. Just as with Holmes’ “death” at the Reichenbach Falls, the story doesn’t end there.
Do I have to add that David Rintoul does a masterly job? He has a great script here and he simply makes the most of it. The only flaw in this otherwise perfect setup is a pronounced over-eagerness on the part of our editor so get to the next story. The moment—no, the nanosecond—one tale ends, the title of the next is shot at you and you’re off on the next adventure.
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