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

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  919 ratings  ·  106 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 1899)
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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
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
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 3 of 5 stars
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
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
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
“A man's reach must exceed his grasp, dear boy, or what the dickens is a heaven for?”

In Decline of the English Murder, George Orwell takes Raffles as his prime example of circa-1900 glamorised crime fiction, and compares it with what the genre has become by c1940 (in James Hadley Chase, and his ilk), to draw some fascinating contrasts. Mostly these revolve around the “Americanisation” of English culture, in language, desires, and morality, the impetus for which he lays at WWII: both conceptually
Lori Swanberg
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
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.
Jim Dooley
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.

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
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
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.
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)
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
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
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.
Apr 29, 2009 Jeremy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeremy by: fans of Sherlock Holmes
Shelves: favorite-books
If you like Sherlock Holmes, you really owe it to yourself to check out these stories about Raffles--a gentleman burglar--who uses his fame as a cricketer as a front for his crimes.

This version is a nice scholarly edition with some pretty useful notes and a great introduction.
The author of "The Amateur Cracksman" was Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, and the Raffles stories were a deliberate attempt to write a kind of reverse Sherlock Holmes. Our anti-hero, Raffles, is a gentleman and cricket star who moonlights as an amateur thief. Each story narrates a crime that Raffles plans and attempts with the help of his sidekick, Bunny. While these stories aren't as ingeniously plotted as the Holmes stories, they've got lots of action, fun period detail, and the occasiona ...more
A fun collection of stories about the daring escapades of a gentleman thief and his sidekick.
Linda Jacobs
A gentleman thief modeled after Sherlock Holmes. Thank you Project Gutenberg.
Elijah Kinch Spector
Well that was a lot of fun.
Matt Simmons
Hornung writes unevenly, with the first, middle, and last stories being quite well realized, and the others seeming like so much filler, merely to attempt to flesh out Raffles and his associate--and our narrator--Bunny. Even in those good stories, there's relatively little tension in the crimes, nearly no real cleverness displayed by Raffles, but merely good luck, charm, and a sense of superiority over his victims that brings him to constant, regular, and quite easy victory. His opponent, Inspec ...more
Raffles: The Black Mask, also known as Raffles: Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman, is the second and chronologically last of the stories by E W Hornung about A J Raffles, gentleman burglar. It is much darker than The Amateur Cracksman.

After his daring escape from a liner in the Mediterranean, Raffles spends the first half of this book dodging both police and a criminal gang “like a rat in a hole”.
Raffles was a genius and he could not make it pay. . .Thus far our rewards had oftener th
Unlike other books hastily categorized as 'Victorian', these stories really ARE Victorian, or at least they begin in the reign of Victoria. In one story, Raffles steals a very distinctive gold cup. Unable to fence it intact, and repulsed by the idea of it being broken up for the metals, he sends it anonymously to Queen Victoria as a gift for her Diamond Jubilee. Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, so her Diamond Jubilee would be in 1897.

In this hothouse and double-walled-garden world wher
I love Raffles. Raffles and Bunny beat out Holmes and Watson as my favourite late-Victorian duo; this is mainly because Bunny is a lot less subtle than Watson in his out-and-out adoration of his friend. Plus, whilst I'm usually interested to know *how* Holmes solved a case, I can pretty much guarantee that he *will* solve it by the end of the story. With Raffles, there are a lot more possible endings and he's rather more fallible than Holmes. (Also, he plays first-class cricket, which is enough ...more
Saya baca buku ini versi bahasa indonesia keluaran gagas media, untuk ceritanya terbagi dalam beberapa cerita berbeda dan dipisah menjadi masing-masing bab. Namun kesemuanya saling menyambung dalam artian runut berdasarkan bulan atau harinya.
Ceritanya sendiri mengisahkan tentang A.J.Raffles seorang pria inggris terhormat yg mempunyai hobi selain hobi cricketnya yaitu mencuri. Ditemani sahabat setianya Bunny, mereka beraksi dengan sangat cermat.
Metode penceritaannya sendiri mirip dengan novel She
**edited 02/02/14

The Raffles stories are basically the British version of Arsene Lupin: they feature a hyperintelligent Sherlock Holmes-like character who uses his skills to transgress the law rather than defend it. Raffles' adventures are rather more serious and straightforward than the often spoofy escapades of Lupin and his nemesis "Holmlock Shears." Like the Holmes stories, Raffles' adventures are narrated by a loyal and rather less intelligent sidekick. However, narrator Bunny Manders strik
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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...
Raffles: Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman A Thief in the Night Mr. Justice Raffles Raffles Dead Men Tell No Tales

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“Money lost -- little lost. Honour lost -- much lost. Pluck lost -- all lost.” 3 likes
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