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Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman (A.J. Raffles, The Gentleman Thief #1)

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,359 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
Gentleman thief Raffles is daring, debonair, devilishly handsome-and a first-rate cricketer. In these eight stories, the master burglar indulges his passion for cricket and crime: stealing jewels from a country house, outwitting the law, pilfering from the nouveau riche, and, of course, bowling like a demon-all with the assistance of his plucky sidekick, Bunny.

Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 26th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1898)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 27, 2012 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
the idea of raffles, the gentleman thief, obverse of the legendary sherlock holmes, gentleman detective (the creation of hornung's esteemed brother-in-law arthur conan doyle), thrills me. and i can't say i don't normally adore the idea of working outside the law to balance the scales of justice -- i watch timothy hutton's modern-day robin hood crew on leverage as often as possible. there is no doubt that raffles is in some ways the progenitor of this type of character but in reading the book i r ...more
January 2011

Good news, Americans! You don't have to know anything about cricket to read and enjoy this!

Meet A. J. Raffles: gentleman, independent bachelor, London man-about-town, champion cricketeer--er, cricketman--I mean, player-of-cricket--and...thief? Surely not! Surely so: how else could this gentleman of leisure afford to play poor man's baseball--I mean, cricket, sorry--whenever he likes? One must make money somehow, God wot, and Raffles' way is only slightly more dishonest than others. I
Sep 10, 2015 Nancy rated it liked it
An utterly delightful romp; more fun than Holmes.
Jun 20, 2008 Scott rated it liked it
Shelves: victorian, crime, 1890s, london
The embodiment of fin de siècle decadence, dashing A. J. Raffles artfully commits crime for crime's sake. Bored with life as a master cricketer, Raffles turns to a life of crime to stifle his ennui -- and pad his purse. His conscience-bitten sidekick, Bunny, accompanies him as he burgles Victorian London's rogues, ruthless, and "rich and undeserving." In the eight short stories that make up Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1899), E. W. Hornung creates an anti-Sherlock Holmes -- a character who fi ...more
Jan 30, 2012 Wealhtheow marked it as to-read
recommended to me as: "They're basically Sherlock and Watson, but criminals. It's awesome.
To make the Raffles books even better - not only are they basically Holmes and Watson but criminals; Hornung was ACD's brother-in-law, and Raffles and Bunny were pretty much an intentional Holmes and Watson parody, complete with OTT slashiness that might actually have been intentional.

Be warned for some A Product Of It's Time casual racism in one or two of the stories, th
Jun 20, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure
Raffles is such an appealing character that it is a wonder that no other writer has quite captured his spirit. He is one of a class of well-educated young nineteenth-century swells, fit for earning no living, having apparently inherited no fortune, yet expected to live like gentlemen of means.

In an earlier age, younger sons or the sons of impecunious gentlemen would have ridden off to the Crusades, or crept into poor livings as clergymen. By the Victorian age, growing numbers of such boys had t
Nov 19, 2008 Daniel rated it liked it
Recommended to Daniel by: Rose
It would be impossible to read "The Amateur Cracksman" -- the first of E.W. Hornung's books featuring gentleman thief A.J. Raffles and his sidekick and chronicler Bunny -- without comparing it to the Sherlock Holmes books. Hornung, after all, was Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, and he created Raffles as something of a reversal of Holmes -- a character as cunning as the famous detective, and as much a master of disguise, but prone to using his ingenuity to commit crimes rather than solve the ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Leticia rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
I love Raffles and his offsider Bunny. These guys are to crime what Sherlock Holmes is to solving crime! Interesting that the author, E.W. Hornung, was also Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's son-in-law; so it makes it extra-special in those stories where Raffles and Holmes come face-to-face. When you know this, the entire thing seems like a family joke.

I'm not going to go into detail; suffice to say, that if you haven't read Raffles, you must. Your life is incomplete if you haven't.
Rachel Jacquest
I read the first story of the book, and was around half way through the second before I decided to give up - this book is irritatingly dull. Though the stories are short, Hornung still manages to pack them with hyperbole and filler; in fact the content of the plot could easily fit on one page. The rest of each story (the first two, at least) is filled with the narrator's constant surprise and shock at the less-than-shocking protagonist, Raffles. The exclamation marks, generously decorating each ...more
Julie Davis
Feb 29, 2016 Julie Davis rated it liked it
E.W. Hornung dedicated this collection stories to his brother-in-law, Arthur Conan Doyle. That makes any comparison fair game between the team of Holmes and Watson to this pairing of Raffles and Harry "Bunny". The main difference is that Raffles is a burglar, helped by his sidekick Bunny. Bunny is often clueless about Raffles' plans and also reluctant to help. It isn't really very gentlemanly, you know. However, he definitely needs cash and isn't going to take a job, so he burgles alongside his ...more
Mike Jensen
Where to start? These stores are a sort of reverse Sherlock Holmes. The protagonist, a thief, takes the man who chronicles his adventures with him on his capers, and these stories are set in roughly the same time period and in mostly similar places. Whereas, however, Doyle wrote with wonderful flare and style, E. W. Hornung does not. The lines are flat and unengaging. Raffles is no Holmes. Though both share a penchant for keeping their friend in the dark in order to surprise the reader, his inte ...more
Mar 02, 2013 V rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves, fiction
Harry 'Bunny' Manders hasn't been enamoured with the way his life has been going. In fact, he wishes to end it all. He's in terrible debt, and unsure about his future. Enter Arthur J. Raffles, Bunny's old school chum from his public school days, an upperclassman whom he looks up to and respects. Over a simple game of baccarat, it is revealed that both of them are up to their necks in debt, and have not a penny between them. But this isn't the end of the road for Mr. Raffles. In fact, it marked a ...more
Sep 22, 2011 Travis rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, mystery
Always had a soft spot for the various gentlemen adventurers/detectives/thieves of the late 1800's/early nineteen hundreds.
They were fun, living in a world of leisure, adventure, wealth and charming women that is no more realistic than Ian Flemming's England or pulp novels set in the old west.

The two big gentlemen thieves of the time were Raffles and Lupin.
While Lupin was the better of the two, more suave and tricky, Raffles had a reliable sidekick, a more low key style and was steeped in Britis
It lacks spark. Interesting only when compared (and found inferior) to Sherlock Holmes stories. I read the Raffles Redux annotated version and thought the notes were wonderful.
I loved reading this book and was so glad to randomly come across it at the library. Raffles is one of those under-appreciated classics that people would love to read if they knew they'd like it!

I try to sell it to my friends as a Sherlock Holmes-type story only with thieves instead of crime solvers. Of course it's much more than that, but it's the most succinct way I can think of to make people think of what it is without getting into too much detail.

I adore Raffles' and Bunny's relationship. R
Jul 17, 2015 Matthew rated it liked it
E W Hornung was Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law and Hornung’s most famous creation could almost be a roguish relative or in-law to Conan Doyle’s most famous creation.

It might be too much to call Raffles a villainous counterpart to Sherlock Holmes. He is certainly no Moriarty, and his crimes don’t extend further than theft, burglary and a handful of murders, usually in self-defence or as justifiable revenge. His ventures occasionally fail, but then so do some of Holmes’ attempts at detection.
May 11, 2014 Gregory rated it it was ok
This is a "classic" of the crime genre, and I was alerted to it by a book store owner's list of the best classic mysteries. However, like many a classic, it might be better to claim to have read it than to actually read it.

It took me a while to understand why this book was so popular in its very late Victorian era. I think that the idea of an upper-class jewel thief was much more provocative and exciting in that time, and the book's glimpse at the other side of the crime (from that of the detect
Lori Swanberg
Feb 13, 2014 Lori Swanberg rated it liked it
In enjoy Bunny's voice and perspective in the same way I do Conan Doyle's Dr. Watson--the ordinary and sometimes apprehensive man expressing admiration and awe at his friend's abilities. Passages that made me smile:

"Miss Melhuish was merely the rector's daughter, and she had only been asked to make an even number. She informed me of both facts before the soup reached us, and her subsequent conversation was characterized by the same engaging candour. It exposed what was little short of a mania fo
Jim Dooley
Nov 27, 2014 Jim Dooley rated it really liked it
I would love to know what Arthur Conan-Doyle thought of this book. It was written by a man who had married into his family, so I suppose that some leeway was given to the liberal borrowing of Holmesian qualities. Still, it must have rankled a bit to have such similarities in how the primary characters relate to one another, moments that seemed a bit too inspired by the Sherlock Holmes canon (particularly in relation to Charles Augustus Milverton), and even the layout of the short story format.

Mar 01, 2014 Zana rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook, own, fiction
You know how when you're reading Dorothy Sayers and it's so excellent and great and you're all enthused and wonder why these books aren't required reading for everybody in the whole world, it would show people what literature really is and why it's smart and FUN and awesome, and --

and then suddenly you come across a massive, awful, horrible, rage-inducing screed against the Jews? Just casually dropped in there and leaving you reeling because who IS this author who can have such deep insights int
Feb 21, 2014 Lissibith rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
This was an entertaining but not particularly good read, even accounting for the change in tastes over the years since this was first committed to ink.

Raffles is a guy who seems inestimably bored with his life. He's a fabulous cricket player, but seems to take no real joy in the sport. He takes to life as a thief, and does sometimes seem to get a little joy out of it, but he draws in his associate, bunny, and often seems utterly bothered by the need to actually treat his like an associate. He ha
Chad Bearden
Jun 15, 2015 Chad Bearden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In A.J. Raffles, author E.W. Hornung created a quintessential Victoria pulp hero. His prose is far too purple and his adventures far too rickety and cobbled together to ever achieve the literary greatness of his obvious literary model, Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. But there is, nonetheless, something charming about the simplistic criminal capers Raffles and his faithful sidekick, Bunny find themselves involved in. Although, while it is admittedly fun to see the super-sleuth narrative formula turned ...more
Jan 26, 2015 Will rated it it was ok
"'How came you to begin?' I asked, as curiosity overcame mere wonder, and a fascination for his career gradually wove itself into my fascination for the man.

'Ah! that's a long story,' said Raffles. 'It was in the Colonies, when I was out there playing cricket. It's too long a story to tell you now, but I was in much the same fix that you were in to-night, and it was my only way out. I never meant it for anything more, but I'd tasted blood, and it was all over with me. Why should I work when I co
This is more of a historical curiosity now as the stories aren't very exciting or clever.

A.J. Raffles is a gentleman thief in late Victorian England whose main cover story of playing cricket allows him some outside excuse for travel. He has a sidekick named Bunny Manders who is the one documenting the stories. There is a main adversary as well in Inspector MacKenzie of Scotland Yard. If these parallels to Sherlock Holmes aren't enough for you, then you should also know that author E.W. Hornung w
A friend of mine introduced me to Raffles during my graduate-school days (daze?) at UCLA. EW Hornung was the brother-in-law of Conan Doyle; and Raffles, the criminal counterpart to Holmes (though Hornung "redeemed" him in his final adventure, gallantly defending the Empire).

Raffles is not as striking a character as Holmes and his companion (Bunny) is not Dr. Watson but the stories are entertaining.
Oct 31, 2014 Yan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Enjoyably homoerotic, and in a genre I guess you'd call "cosy crime"? I really liked it, but I was left a bit shell-shocked by the ending.

(view spoiler)
Oct 28, 2014 Fractalhead rated it it was ok
Raffles sang Pembobol amatir dikarang oleh E.W. Hornung, saudara iparnya Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Beberapa orang membandingkan Raffles dan Bunny dengan pasangan Sherlock dan Watson, mungkin karena fakta tersebut. Tak heran ekspektasiku sebelum membaca novel ini lumayan besar. Nyatanya, Raffles si orang terhormat yang memilih profesi sebagai pencuri tidak memiliki karisma seperti konsultan amatir kita, Sherlock Holmes. Holmes menggunakan kecerdasan dalam pekerjaannya, tapi Raffles lebih banyak men ...more
Richard Ward
Feb 28, 2014 Richard Ward rated it liked it
Fun book by E.W. Hornung, brother-in-law to Arthur Conan Doyle, to whom the book is dedicated. The protagonist is the flipside to Sherlock Holmes. A.J. Raffles is a gentleman who, bored and broke, takes to a life of crime, along with his sidekick Bunny. The book is eight short stories of their capers. I would have preferred a novel instead. As it is, some of the stories are just not nearly so good as the others. Raffles and Bunny reminded me less of Holmes and Watson than they did of Lord Peter ...more
Gina Dalfonzo
Entertaining -- if not exactly moral -- tales of a gentleman burglar . . . written by Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law! (It's a great pity they never got together and wrote "Sherlock Holmes Meets Raffles.") One can make a case that the stories effectively satirize the values of turn-of-the-century British society -- but even so, they're still pretty amoral.
Mar 27, 2013 Sylvester rated it liked it
2.5* Enjoyable, light reading.(All comparisons to Sherlock fall flat in my opinion, though. Raffles is not a counterpart to the great detective - Moriarty already fills that bill.)I had expected the stories to be more complicated because of the comparison, but they're of a lighter tone altogether.
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Ernest William Hornung known as Willie, was an English author, most famous for writing the Raffles series of novels about a gentleman thief in late Victorian London.

In addition to his novels and short stories Hornung wrote some war verse, and a play based on the Raffles stories was produced successfully. He was much interested in cricket, and was "a man of large and generous nature, a delightful c
More about E.W. Hornung...

Other Books in the Series

A.J. Raffles, The Gentleman Thief (4 books)
  • Raffles: Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman
  • A Thief in the Night
  • Mr. Justice Raffles

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“Money lost -- little lost. Honour lost -- much lost. Pluck lost -- all lost.” 4 likes
“I was afraid I wrote neither well enough nor ill enough for success.” 0 likes
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