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Gallows Thief

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3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  4,060 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
A spellbinding historical drama about an ex-soldier in 1820s London who must help rescue an innocent man from Death Row, by bestselling author Bernard Cornwell

It is the end of the Napoleonic Wars and England has just fought its last victorious battle against the French. As Rider Sandman and the other heroes of Waterloo begin to make their way back to England, they find a c
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Harper (first published 2001)
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StoryTellerShannon
A "poor" aristocrat takes a job on with the gallows in London and is exposed to the underbelly of noble society while trying to save a man from execution who he suspects is innocent.

It has the usual Bernard Cornwell quality.

Audio Go presents this one and Sean Barrett delivers a wonderful variety of "British" voices.

OVERALL GRADE: B plus.
Dawn
As witnessed by my 5 start rating I thought this was a fabulous book. I am not sure if listening to it in audio form rather than reading it affected my enjoyment but when a book makes you put in extra time at the gym so you can listen to more, it's gotta be good.
Set in 1817, two years after the Battle of Waterloo, Rider Sandman is no longer engaged to the woman he loves, has given up his commission in the army and no longer enjoys the privilege that money affords. Not being able to support himse
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Gerry
Nov 13, 2008 Gerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
London 1817, Newgate where the crowds gather to watch the death throes of people on the gallows. Charles Corday, a portrait painter, is sentenced to hang but is he guilty? Rider Sandman, who fought at Waterloo, sets out to prove his innocence. But can he do so before the hangman slips the noose? A tremendous, exciting read with the ambience of London of the early 1800s brilliantly captured.

Vagner Stefanello
Review in Portuguese from Desbravado Livros:

Dessa vez, resolvi apostar em um gênero diferente de um dos meus autores favoritos. Nesse livro, Bernard Cornwell deixa um pouco de lado os seus (magníficos) romances históricos e investe em um gênero muito peculiar entre os leitores: o romance policial. E a narrativa dele continua primorosa, diga-se de passagem...

Somos apresentados ao capitão Rider Sandman, que volta para casa depois de ter lutado contra os franceses na batalha de Waterloo e depara-se
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Sofia
I never thought I'd say this about a Cornwell book, but here it goes: this was crap. I can't quite bring myself to hate one of his books, so I guess 2 stars is more than enough for the cheap thrills and predictable plot.

My biggest peeves? Right of the bat (cricket pun intended) is te hero of the hour: Captain Rider Sandman, or as I like to call him, Captain Awesome McCoolname. Cpt Mcname here is, indeed, awesome. He is a former cricket superstar, memorable figure of the Waterloo battle, and so r
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Barb
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I thought it was great fun. This is the first book I've read by Bernard Cornwell and I specifically chose this one because it was set in England during the reign of King George III and it wasn't as dominated by war like the majority of Cornwell's other novels.

I liked that this seemed to be equal parts historical fiction and mystery. I love when I'm reading a mystery that has characters I care enough about to make the mystery an added element of enjoyment rather
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Carol
In 1820 London where you could be executed by the hangman for petit thief, Rider Sandman is asked to investigate a condemned man's guilt.An artist is convicted of murder. Sandman is no detective but he needs the money so he gladly accepts the work. Sandman is a captain who fought at Waterloo but on his return to England his family is disgraced by his father's misdeeds and subsequent suicide. The murder investigation leads to Rider uncovering scandalous behavior in the aristocracy and a corrupt p ...more
Dave
May 11, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Cornwell. He kind of got me into historical novels. Louis L'Amour once said, the easiest way to learn history is through reading historical novels. I agree.

Gallow's Thief is a well researched mystery novel that took place in 1800's England. Let me say, that I'm glad that I live in 21st century America.

It is a good read, check it out.
Peter
Feb 10, 2015 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bernard Cornwell, English-born and now American, is probably the most prolific author of arguably the greatest historical potboilers in the English language (except, of course, the inestimable Patrick O’Brien). Certainly Cornwell’s range is the greatest—-eighteen novels on the 18th century British army (the Sharp Stories); three Arthurian Britain novels (the Warlord Chronicles); eight novels about pagans (Norsemen and Saxons) and Christians in 12th century Britain (the Saxon Tales, see reviews); ...more
Kathy
Mar 07, 2017 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this earlier in the week and failed to move from my reading cove and visit my laptop to write my thoughts on this book. I am a big fan of Cornwell's Sharpe and Saxon series, and with this departure and short visit to the Regency Period he did the usual - created one honorable though flawed hero...one you want to read more of. For now, it seems, there is just one Sandman book. If another appears, I will read it. Why did I award only 3 stars? Hmmm...
Having read every Georgette Heyer book mo
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Adam
This is an excellently told exciting tale set in England just after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. Has someone been wrongly accused of murder? Will the hero, an army officer who fought at Waterloo, get evidence that will save him from the gallows?

This is a thriller that takes place in the era that Georgette Heyer describes so well. Cornwell also captures the period brilliantly.

Filled with wonderful characters this book kept me engaged from start to its breathless finish.
Ken Ransom
Dec 22, 2016 Ken Ransom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think Bernard Cornwell has ever written a story that I didn't enjoy his blending of the historical with the fictional. This is one of his best, about one of the busiest periods for the gallows of England and Wales. There were 2,028 executions in England and Wales between 1805 and 1832, about 75 executions a year. The hero of the "Gallow Thief" is expected to rubber-stamp the verdict that is sending an innocent man to be hung for murder. The question is even if he doesn't will he be able ...more
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 Althea Ann rated it really liked it
This is likely my favorite book that I've read by Bernard Cornwell.
Although he always writes well-researched historical novels, many of
them are just a little bit too masculine and military-focused for my
taste. With this historical mystery set in 19th century London, he
achieves a more balanced milieu.
Rider Sandman returns to London a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo
expecting the respect given a military hero. However, he finds that in
his absence, his father gambled the family fortune away, and t
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Gary
One of Cornwell's finest. It is London in 1820, an England of much poverty, social injustice and social ills, and the gallows are busier than they have ever been in England with men and women hung for a variety of crimes without distinction between foul murder and petty theft.
A tragic scene at the beginning of the novel made a great impression on me, where an innocent young girl, a maidservant, is hung for having allegedly stolen a pearl necklace and her protestations of innocence ignored. This
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Nicholas Parsons
Feb 13, 2017 Nicholas Parsons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard-boiled meets historical fiction. Any cliche in the "Who done it" detective fiction plot is overshadowed by the brilliant insight into a period of history with which Bernard Cornwall is well acquainted. Matthew Shardlake meets Richard Sharp.
Reinhold
Rider Sandman ist ein verarmter Offizier blieb aber immer zutiefst ehrlich und ehrenhaft. Als er eines Tages vom Innenminister den Auftrag erhält, einen Mordfall nochmals zu untersuchen, macht er sich daran die Hintergründe im Gegensatz zur Justiz wirklich aufzuklären und stößt schon bald auf ein Netzwerk der Oberschicht, die seine Arbeit verhindern möchte. Der Roman ist eine Anklage der Todesstrafe, nicht nur unter den Voraussetzungen des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts.

Sprachlich hat man einen echten
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Graham
May 24, 2009 Graham rated it really liked it
This Regency-period mystery yarn from Sharpe writer Cornwell is a tour-de-force of a novel, containing as it does a little of everything: real, raw romance; some gripping action and a detective-style plot that twists and turns all over place until the final, shocking denouement.

As a story, it deals with some pretty unpleasant subject matters: we get to see what life in prison for the condemned was like, whilst the final dance of the gallows bookends the novel in excruciating detail.

Within the p
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Kevin Wilkins
Mar 09, 2013 Kevin Wilkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the last of Bernard Cornwell's books that I read. I have read all of his books and am a real fan. This gets 'only' 4 stars because of the way he educates us in Flash language which, whilst interesting is done in a 'tell me' rather than a 'show me' way.
Cornwell's descriptive writing is excellent and when he was describing the entrance to the prison and rotten row I was ho;ding my breath to keep out the smell.
Rider, the main character, an ex officer in the Napoleonic wars, carries on what
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elithea
Mar 30, 2015 elithea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: od-audio
i listened to the john keeble audiobook reading and was fabulous! listening to that last scene reading is literally (yes) breathtaking! why o why is this not a series??? he's already carefully set up his band of characters, adventures await! especially with keeble.

i only wish i could listen to the sharpe series, which is all we get, it seems, but with frederick davidson? impossible.
Sean
Sep 24, 2007 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent historical adventure/mystery, obviously very well researched. Good characters and period detail are marred by an excess of sexual references/slang (nothing graphic, but it gets fairly crude) and an unsatisfying resolution. I'll try more of Cornwell's stuff in the future, but I don't _particularly_ recommend this one, despite an awesome hero.
Janet Martin
Apr 09, 2015 Janet Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent audio performance moves this fine historical mystery up to at least 4.5 stars. I've long been a Bernard Cornwell fan, but, IMO, this is his very best work--would love to see him make it into a series!
Tasha
Dec 12, 2014 Tasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't compare this to the Saxon Series but still a good read.
Cindy
Surprisingly exciting mystery, nicely drawn out (not too...). Not Christian-based but overall viewpoint is "It's not a bad thing." Well narrated by Jonathan Keyball. Recommended.
Sherelyn Ernst
Feb 14, 2017 Sherelyn Ernst rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
informative, suspenseful, and fast-paced
EileenNH
Mar 22, 2017 EileenNH rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction at it's Best.

Bernard Cornwell's historical writings entertain. I have never been disappointed in his topics or the characters he developed. I especially like his battle scenes.
Joe
Mar 22, 2017 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant and entertaining book filled with drama and color. The use of the "flash" language of the poor Londoners in 1820 was particularly amusing. This was certainly one of the best stories I've ever read.
Nolly
Mar 20, 2017 Nolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The characters are well drawn and either appealing or repellent, as the author dictates. The depiction of hangings and the entertainment value derived at the time was chilling, but the hero is driven to save the innocent man and I rooted for him not only because he was a likable and earnest guy, but the task of saving one poor human from an inhumane fate is what moves the novel forward. Humorous in places, lots of cricket references, and the author's command of the "c ...more
Kayla
Dec 13, 2016 Kayla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hope they're more
Ann
Dec 15, 2016 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read, with some great (if disturbing) period details.
Deborah Bogen
I'm a Cornwell fan, but...

This is not a successful effort. Entire paragraphs are devoted to flash slang, which you can read for yourself in better versions. They seem designed to highlight BC' "expertise." There's a clever braiding of cricket history, Waterloo history and hanging history, but there's not an unexpected moment in the book. Even dragging out the final big scene produces no real excitement. Unlike other Cornwell texts the psychology of the characters is not fully, or even partially
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Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother, who was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his birth mother's maiden n ...more
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