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The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime: Con Artists, Burglars, Rogues, and Scoundrels from the Time of Sherlock Holmes

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  162 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Read Michael Sims's posts on the Penguin Blog

An exclusive collection-the first- ever gathering of rogues from the gaslight era

collected here for the first time: the best crime fiction from the gaslight era. All the legendary thieves are present-Arsène Lupin and A. J. Raffles, Colonel Clay and Simon Carne, Romney Pringle, Get Rich Quick Wallingford, and the Infallible Goda
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Penguin Classics (first published February 21st 2009)
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Forget Sherlock Holmes, if you can--Victorian literature produced some great criminals as well! A. J. Raffles, Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford, Simon Carne, Captain Gault, and many other scoundrels and ruffians tried their luck on the other side of the law, and many managed to make a very dishonest living out of it. American millionaires, watch out! English lords, lock up your paintings! Ladies everywhere, keep an eye on those diamonds!

I recently read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I was hungr
Oct 06, 2011 rabbitprincess rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Victorian/Holmesian crime fiction
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: We Be Reading
* * * 1/2

Overall an enjoyable collection to while away a few days with on the bus. Michael Sims has assembled an interesting group of con men, thieves and rogues who would have been contemporaries of Sherlock Holmes. Each story is by a different author and comes with an introduction by Sims explaining why he included the story and putting it in context with the author's other works. I really appreciated these introductions, as well as the notes for further reading.

Of the stories themselves, my f
Dec 12, 2012 Cleo rated it it was amazing
Oh, how I loved this volume of short mystery stories. Each of them were witty and funny. All of the stories but one aren't detective stories; they're from the point of view of the criminal; which was interesting. As the title suggests, there are all manner of criminals: gentlemen thieves, rogues, con men, burglars etc. No murderers though, and the thieves get away with their crimes. The stories are all pretty suspenseful; not super suspenseful as they're written in an older style, but intriguing ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
"Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may the more perfectly respect it"- G.K. Chesterton.

That quote perfectly sums up the twelve delightful mystery stories from the Victorian and Edwardian eras contained in this volume.

This is a collection that takes the reader back to a time when criminals used wit and ingenuity rather than weapons, and crime fighters resembled none other than Sherlock Holmes himself.

The most popular mystery writers from th
Dec 28, 2009 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, 2009
Sims has done an amazing job assembling these stories of criminal capers from the gaslight era (love the cover, with the gloved gent's hand in the act of swiping the Penguin logo). The introductions are informative, inspiring and invaluable.

Fascinating to see this vein of fiction that arose in response to the glittering wealth of the Gilded Age (many of the rich people in these stories are Americans). But Victorian charm isn't quite enough to sustain the collection. And it may have been a bit m
Daniel Kilkelly
Dec 12, 2013 Daniel Kilkelly rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories highlights a number of well written episodes of unique anti-heroes created in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This book allows readers to explore the creative response to heroes such as Sherlock Holmes as created by Doyle and enabling readers to identify with multiple authors in minute doses, whereby one can decide which characters and authors ought to be further pursued through additional reading.
Jan 18, 2010 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Great little book of turn of the century crime fiction. Not only are there light (but not cozy!) crime fics, but there's some humor and twists as well. What really stood out for me in this anthology were the author introductions -- all too often in anthologies they just get to the short stories and you're on your own. Each story here had a little author bio with sidenotes, connections, and information about their other works.
Jon Touchstone
Sep 14, 2009 Jon Touchstone rated it liked it
I am still in the middle of this one. It involves gaslight era detective stories, i.e. ones that take both take place in and evoke the atmosphere of the time of Sherlock Holmes, but from the point of view of the criminals instead of the detectives. It's not bad, but I prefer to root for the detectives. I am not sure if I will finish this one, as I started a new Lord Peter Wimsey that I like much better.
Jun 15, 2015 Maharsh rated it it was amazing
I would have ideally liked to give it a 4 star rating. The only reason I give it a 5 is because of the horizons this one opens up. If you like quaint, old world settings peppered with heists, and crime look no more. The greatest thing about the book is the introductions it offers to great writers (before each of their short stories). This book became my gateway to other outstanding writers such as Grant Allen and Guy Boothby. I strongly recommend this book of delectable crime stories.
Apr 18, 2010 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: own
It is always interesting to contrast similar styles of stories from the same period of time and these are an amusing little set of Victorian crime stories.

I find however, that I prefer to be on the detective side of the story than the criminal.
Pretty good. Although the intro says something about these being little known & mostly uncollected and I've read several of these short stories before. Also...I must be too law-abiding; I much prefer being on the side of Sherlock Holmes to Raffles. Three and a half stars.
Oct 04, 2009 Americanogig rated it really liked it
Great little book on crime fiction from the turn of last century through the 20s. No murders and most of the criminals are anti-heroic, Robin Hood types. Very amusing and lots of twist-turns to keep you interested. The atmosphere in each story was exceptional!
Feb 16, 2010 Maren rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic anthology of short crime fiction from the era of Sherlock Holmes. What makes the stories unique is that they are from the perspective of the criminals. A nice introduction to other authors of the era who may be less well known than Conan Doyle.
Feb 28, 2013 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: re-read
The first story is a gem, but it's downhill from there. It is refreshing, however, to immerse oneself in diction that's intelligent and vocabulary that's just a little more precise than our contemporary language.
Oct 05, 2013 John rated it liked it
Shelves: literature, 2010, 2013
Read it for the introduction by Michael Sims, provided several atmospheric pieces that conjured up turn-of-the-century London and the thieves and detectives that entertained audiences after Doyle killed Sherlock.
Dec 20, 2009 Casey rated it really liked it
A nice collection of very short stories from a by-gone era. Great for a quick read that won't excite you too much.
Andy Fanton
May 20, 2010 Andy Fanton rated it really liked it
I'm currently working my way through this really fun collection of Victorian/Edwardian crime stories, replete with rogues, scoundrels and even one or two rascals. Huzzah!
Aug 20, 2012 Portia rated it liked it
just what I needed! lots of different, fun crime stories
I enjoyed the same editor's Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime, but I can't say I was a huge fan of these stories; the rogues are not nearly roguish enough.
Catherine Siemann
Aug 14, 2009 Catherine Siemann rated it liked it
The subtitled describes it best. Victorian and Edwardian and diverting, though necessarily fluffy.
Jul 22, 2012 Mary rated it liked it
Good stories - if one has read a great deal of this sort of thing, the endings will not be particularly surprising.
May 27, 2012 Naticia rated it it was ok
Maybe I am biased towards the detective stories I usually read, but I was not impressed with this collection. Some stories were better than others, but none inspired me to read more by the author.
Sam Shipley
May 18, 2012 Sam Shipley rated it really liked it
A very fun read and some classic tales. Great for the morning bus rides.
Aug 11, 2014 Michelle rated it liked it
Collection of short stories on the adventures of con artist, burglars, rogues and scoundrels from Victorian era. Some are good, some are just ok. I dont have a particular favorite title.
Purple Osprey
Mar 05, 2015 Purple Osprey rated it it was amazing

As good as always.
Laurie rated it it was amazing
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Dec 15, 2010
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Aug 23, 2011
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Feb 27, 2013
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Michael Sims is the author of the acclaimed "The Story of Charlotte's Web, Apollo's Fire: A Day on Earth in Nature and Imagination," "Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form," and editor of "Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories" and "The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories." He lives in western Pennsylva ...more
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