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Ratcatcher (Matthew Hawkwood #1)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  955 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
Regency London is vividly brought to live in this extraordinary page-turner, the first in a series of historical thrillers featuring Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood - a complex and fascinating hero. Hunting down highwaymen was not the usual preserve of a Bow Street Runner. As the most resourceful of this elite band of investigators, Matthew Hawkwood was surprised to be ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 2006 by Harper (first published January 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dawn (& Ron)
I really enjoyed this Regency historical adventure with impossible, but fun, near escapes. But there is also some meat to go along with the adventure, from the filthy, fetid stench of London's overcrowded streets and back alleys to the regimented broad shoulders of the Admiralty. Matthew Hawkwood is a strong, capable Bow Street Runner, soldier and spy, with a touch of danger about him. The catch phrase on the cover sums him up nicely "You don't send a gentleman to catch vermin. You send Hawkwood ...more
RATCATCHER (Bow Street Runner-London-Napoleonic) – G
McGee, James – 1st in series
HarperCollins, 2006-Hardcover
***Matthew Hawkwood, a former soldier and a sharpshooter, is now one of ten Bow Street Runners. When Highwaymen stop a coach and kill a government courier, Hawkwood is called in to find them. In time, he finds what he is really seeking is the contents of the couriers pouch and those behind a plot to destroy the strength of England’s war fleet.
*** Hawkwood, for all this reputation as a top
I liked this mystery/thriller which reminded me of John Dickson Carr's historical mysteries.

This is the first of a series following Matthew Hawkwood, ex-Ranger sharpshooter (a la Sharpe's Rifles) with a shady past and now one of the elite and still shadowy Bow Street Runners.
The story gets a bit wacky. It begins with a highwayman and his apprentice robbing a coach and brutally killing the coachman and a courier for no apparent reason. Hawkwood is assigned to find the murderer and this case keep
Dec 12, 2012 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rejected
In case the one star did not give it away, here are a few things I suggest rather than reading this book:

Jumping into the Thames.
Removing your own fingernails.
Inviting the Westboro Church over for dinner.
Reading Fifty Shades of Gray Freed. Not just the sex scenes - ALL OF IT.

I know that can seem harsh, but let me explain.

This books seemed to have it all - mystery, adventure and history! It had clever little turns of common modern phrases (It's Greek to me >> it could have been in Hindusta
Just arrived from UK through BM.

This is a historical and mystery novel which is based on the Regency London.


The most interesting part of this book is showing the first attempt of the construction of an undersea boat by Robert Fulton, in December of 1799.


The idea of this American inventor was to use his weapon by the French government a giant the British Navy after Bonaparte fall.


The Nautilus was then built at the Perrier workshop in Rouen and was successfully tested and sailed first in July

Sep 11, 2007 Deanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this story. It moves at a cracking pace and I found that I couldn't put it down. The hero is a deep character and I only hope to get to know him more with each book. It's set in the regency period of London with a lot of the action taking part in the slums and back alleys. The story has a number of twists and turns. The final scene was a great ending to the tale.
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
The prologue sets the dark tone for the whole book. The two highwaymen who robbed the coach killed a coachman and an officer in cold blood. One of them even cut off the officer's hand.
And that is the case Matthew Hawkwood, an ex-army officer and now one of the best Bow Street Runners, is assigned to solve.

I loved how the hero is introduced. Two urchins pick-pocketed some officers and then ran to the place they live. Mother Gant lets them live with her as long as they bring whatever they steal.
Mar 18, 2010 Vivienne rated it really liked it

A very satisfying historical mystery/thriller and a very promising start to this series set in Regency England.

I adore the name Hawkwood, it being the surname of one of my original characters, and so obviously enjoyed the story of Matthew Hawkwood, a skilled thief-taker for the Bow Street Runners.

McGee does an excellent job with the setting and you can tell he understands the history and culture of the period and can convey that well to his readers.
Jan 02, 2013 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-ok
If i could give it 2 1/2 stars I would. It was not bad, just not a series I will continue anytime soon.
3.5* An enjoyable story set in the seamier side of Regency London. I enjoy books which use a real event or invention in their storyline and this one did that with the submersible boat, which I did not know about previously. I look forward to reading more books in the series to see how the character development and relationships grow.
Victor Borgeest
Feb 06, 2017 Victor Borgeest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyed this book but the following 2 did not live up to the first
Aug 24, 2009 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don’t send a gentleman to catch vermin. You send Hawkwood.

Ratcatcher while being quite enjoyable is a ‘Goldfinger’ book. Have you ever watched Goldfinger? Have you noticed that James Bond doesn’t really do anything. He falls into nearly every trap, and in the end, one of the other characters (Pussy Galore) saves the day. Okay, Bond was the catalyst for Pussy’s change of allegiances, but really Bond didn’t do to much. That brings us to Ratcatcher by James McGee.

Ratcatcher is a historical adve
Hazel West
This book wasn't really bad, but it wasn't horribly great or original either. It was an entertaining enough read, and was interesting enough for me to get to the end, but apart from that, I really don't have all that much to say about it.

I love the concept of the Bow Street Runners, and I must admit that I was a little disappointed that apart from the fact that Hawkood is one, we really didn't learn all that much about them. They were an awesome elite police force, almost like the Pinkertons, an
Nick Smith
‘Ratcatcher’ is an easy read, for that I liked it. It had intrigue and brought to life the dirt and scum of Regency London. I enjoyed it so much I read both sequels ‘Resurrectionist’ and ‘Rapscallion’.

The only thing that stops me from rating this as four stars is the blatant rip off from Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Sharpe’ series. The author even expressed some concern of the similarities between his Hawkwood and Cornwell’s Sharpe. So why the hell didn’t he change it? Here are a few examples so you know
Theresa Brandt
Regency Era Techno-thriller

If you're accustomed to the coupling of the word 'romance' with the word Regency in your novels, don't expect handsome earls and virginal beauties in 'Hawkwood.' What you'll get instead is revenge, intrigue and submarines coupled with a hero that could go toe-to-toe with those found in the novels by Crichton, le Carre, or Clancy. Hawkwood is a well paced, intriguing and tension-filled read that is grounded in actual events, has been well researched and well-written. Th
Katrina Carrasco
This was a fun read. It takes place in the same time period as Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels (which are probably my favorite books ever). O'Brian's books give us a naval viewpoint; McGee's book is land-centered, following a London cop (but there's plenty of nautical intrigue in McGee's story, too, which I enjoyed). The descriptions of all the city urchins and criminals and the various ways they scrape out a living were great; I especially liked learning the names for different unlawful ...more
In Ratcatcher, author James McGee introduces us to Matthew Hawkwood, one of the bow-street runners who kept law and order on the streets of regency-era London. A former rifleman and guerilla in the Pensinsular war, Matthew Hawkwood is tough, ruthless, and always ready for action.

The story begins with the murder of a naval courier by highwaymen, which Hawkwood is commissioned to investigate. From the beginning it looks like more than highway robbery gone wrong and, as these things usually do, the
**2.5 stars**

When I read mysteries, I expect the MC to lead the action, instead of the action leading him, which was happened in this book. Hawkwood gets caught with his pants down, not once but TWICE, has to be rescued, clues falling on his lap and the villains conveniently sharing all their plans while at the same keeping Hawkwood alive when they should have killed him.

My first inkling that this guy wasn't as smart as he's portrayed to be came when he decided to fight a duel for no reason. He'
Jun 19, 2011 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this over a week ago and to be honest I only have the barest and briefest opinion of it; which I suppose speaks volumes about it.

While it was not a piss-poor book, and certainly was worth the read, it was not original and failed to really captivate. It was very reminiscent of Sharpe, even down to Hawkwood's description ( the scar, and the way his smile 'transforms his face') and his history in the rifles. It felt as if he was taking Sharpe and putting him into a new line of work - as a Bo
Jan 12, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up for something like 99p in a Clearance sale in my local WH Smiths, and I have to say: it actually proved to be a better read than many other books that I've paid full price for.

Set during the late Regency period, this is the era of the Napoleonic Wars, Affairs of Honour (i.e. forbidden duels), Highwaymen and the Bow Street Runners. Starting with the robbery of a coach, this builds up into a plot surrounding a (historically correct) invention that agents of France hope to use
A former army Captain and sharpshooter who is now a Bow Street Runner investigates a highway robbery and several murders which plunge him back into the conflict between Britain and Napoleon.

An interesting enough plot with interesting enough characters, and yet at times it sort of dragged. It was like all the parts in between the action scenes felt like filler, and although the characters had good backstories, they still seemed superficial or artificial at times. I also didn't find McGee's portra
Feb 11, 2013 A.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Hawkwood initially reminded me of Sharpe from the Bernard Cornwell novels, and after some more reading, he almost is Sharpe. He is in the same regiment - the 95th Rifles, he is a marksman, he has a loyal sergeant who saves his life periodically, he thinks with his dick and he has a knack for getting into trouble.

I read some comments that the characters didn’t behave like Regency people, I would say that McGee is writing a book set in Regency times, not writing like a Regency novelist. Do they re
You know what's better than a mediocre Jack Reacher novel? A creatively mediocre Jack Reacher novel set in the slums of a London moired in the napoleonic conflict. Matthew Hawkwood is a former soldier, turned deserter, turned guerilla mercenary now serving in an elite all purpose "detective" unit - the Bow Street Runners. While the fun of this book is in the how the modern action/detective/mystery tropes are played out in a very familiar historical setting, the book reaches a bit too far trying ...more
Shelley Fearn
Hey, this is a book about Richard Sharpe's brother! You remember Richard Sharpe from Bernard Cornwell's excellent series of books about the officer of the 95th Rifles who Wellington raised from the ranks.

There are a lot of similarities in this the first books of the series about a Bow Street Runner. Matthew Hawkwood is a former officer of the 95th Rifles, who following a duel, is wisked off to become one of Wellington's exploring officers. Now, out of the army he has turned his many manly skil
Feb 21, 2008 Barb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boys and men
I really enjoy historical fiction especially the Regency period in England. Unfortunately this book didn't impress me like it did everyone else.

I was an easy read with a somewhat straightforward story unencumbered by a variety of story lines, which is perhaps part of why I was disappointed.

The main character, Matthew Hawkwood, wasn't developed enough for me to really sink into the story. And it was plenty long enough to develop him. I will say I did enjoy his relationship with Sergeant Nathani
Aug 03, 2016 Eadie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 500-series, read-2016
I found Hawkwood to be an excellent debut. The novel is an adventure tale that has a lot of romance, intrigue, well-researched history and action. The plot is well-paced, tension-filled with a lot of true historical happenings from London highlife and lowlife in the early 1800's. Hawkwood is a very interesting character who is ruthless, mysterious, sexy and one I would like to learn more about. He is a member of the Bowstreet Runners which makes for a very entertaining read. It has a lot of desc ...more
With a title like Ratcatcher and a story about Bow Street Runners I had to try this book.

Matthew Hawkwood is a former soldier turned Bow Street Runner. Britain is at war with Napoleon, Wellington is making advances on the continent and the Navy has a new ship about to be launched. With his old war buddy Jago, Hawkwood must solve several crimes.

I was hoping for a better story or maybe just another 100 pages would have made it seem less rushed at the end. Also, maybe a more capable character, not
Apr 30, 2008 edifanob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
Ich habe ein Faible für Geschichten, die in London im Zeitraum 1600 bis 1900 spielen. Mir hat insbesondere die plastische Schilderung Londons gefallen. Ich konnte förmlich den damals herrschenden Gestank riechen. Daneben fand ich die erzählte Geschichte äußerst unterhaltsam. Ich bin nicht sehr gut im Schreiben von Inhaltsangaben. Daher füge ich hier den Klappentext des Buches an:
"London, 1811. Der Krieg mit Napoleon hat seinen Höhepunkt erreicht. In der düsteren, von Gesindel bevölkerten Metropo
Colin Powell
Mar 02, 2013 Colin Powell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unusual story of a Bow Street Runner in 1810. He is a discharched Green jacket from Britain's famous rifle regiment of the Peninsular War. An ex-officer. He now works in London as one of the new types of policeman and is charged with solving a highway robberry in which a government official is murdered and robbed of valuble information concerning national security.

Our Bow Street Runner (Matthew Hawkwood) is taken into a world of espionage with French secret agents and a villinous American who i
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James McGee was born into an army family. He was educated in Gibraltar, Germany and Belfast, giving him a love of travel, which is evident in his meticulous, vivid portraits of diverse people and places. His career has encompassed banking, bookselling and thirteen years in
More about James McGee...

Other Books in the Series

Matthew Hawkwood (5 books)
  • Resurrectionist (Matthew Hawkwood, #2)
  • Rapscallion (Matthew Hawkood, #3)
  • Rebellion (Matthew Hawkwood, #4)
  • The Blooding (Matthew Hawkwood, #5)

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