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Gallows Thief

Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (134 ratings)

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Summary

1820s Britain: after the wars with France, when unemployment was high and soldiers could be paid off, when the government was desperately afraid of social unrest, any crime was drastically punished and thousands were hung. But one could petition the King and an investigation might ensue.…

The man in the dark cell in Newgate Prison was due to hang in a week. He had been found guilty of murdering the aristocrat whose portrait he was painting. He claimed to be innocent - but then the hangman had never hung a guilty man, he said. But even in 1820, the Home Secretary could occasionally use his powers to grant mercy if his investigator found cause and Rider Sandman, once of the First Foot Guards, is given the job.

Rider Sandman, a hero of Waterloo, has family debts to repay but when his first steps in the investigations produce a sizeable bribe to look the other way, this only arouses his smouldering anger over the condition of England, a country which he and others in Wellington's army had fought to preserve. Stepping between gentlemen's clubs and taverns, talking to aristocrats, fashionable painters, their models, and their mistresses, dodging professional cut-throats and deceptive swordsmen, Sandman uncovers a conspiracy of silence, a group whose proudest boast was that they would do anything for any one of them.

Sandman is a wonderful character, as yet undaunted by the sleazy streets, dank jails, or the looming scaffold, and uncorrupted by politicians, sneering gentlemen, or frightening bruisers, an investigator in the making and a brilliant, but very different, hero for all Bernard Cornwell fans.

©2001 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation…Cornwell at his best is utterly compelling. And this is Cornwell at his best." ( Daily Mail)
"Page for page, sentence for sentence, scene for heart-stopping scene GALLOWS THIEF is the strongest historical novel I have read this year…he tells a cracking yarn and fills it with vivid characters and writes crisp dialogue and gets the period detail right..it is hard to stop reading…it is masterly." ( Sunday Telegraph)

What members say

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gallows thief<br />

very well read with the all the existing expectations of seeing a long awaited film with the characters brought to life by the great Johnathan keeble this man was made for reading such well written story's by a great story writer well worth the time and money to listen to this book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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loved it...great characters...superb narration ...

Excellent ...loved the rich voice and characterisations. Hopeful for further adventures. Too good not to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 27-05-15

A really good story

I have listened to and read many of Cornwells book.
I enjoyed the story and the delivery was excellent.
I recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent listen

great story narrated by the excellent Jonathan keeble, well worth it. Will listen to this again.

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Great storytelling!

Jonathan Keeble does a great job telling this story - accents, voices, expression - just first class. Bernard Cromwell’s tale with likeable (macho) hero, attractive accomplices and great plot mean that the story moves with speed and interest. Highly recommended - if you like that sort of thing!!

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Why no sequels?

Love the idea of a Gallows Thief. This is a really enjoyable period thriller with a typically great cast of Cornwell characters. I am definitely surprised this did not spawn a sequel or two. Excellently narrated by Jonathan Keeble.

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Excellent form start to finish.

Extremely well read. A thoroughly good story and well worth listening to. To be recommended.

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excellent

great read, very entertaining story and window of the early 19th century, well worth a read

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Very enjoyable listen

I read this book years ago and enjoyed it so thought I would listen to it. It was a good as I remembered and the narrator Johnathan Keeble brought it to life with his reading.

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This could be the pilot for another series

Wow! A great original story with a nail biting finale...Oops!... Spoiler!....kinda. What will come next I wonder?

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  • John
  • 20-02-15

Did Bernard Cornwell write all of this book?

The book contains a huge amount of fascinating and very convincing detail. It is well written and the performance is excellent.

It is, however, very different from Cornwells other books with a rather melodramatic and, frankly, unconvincing plot.

It's almost as if someone else has written the basic story and then Bernard Cornwell has worked on it to add the detail and atmosphere which he does so well.

This is the first of his books that I have read or listened to that I would rate with less than five stars.