Benjamin Thomas's Reviews > Gallows Thief

Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell
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's review
Oct 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, historical-fiction-britain, mystery-historical
Read from October 04 to 08, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Gallows Thief is the 13th book I've read by Bernard Cornwell and, surprisingly, I've never read one from the Sharpe series for which he is most well known. I rank his "Winter King" trilogy among the best of Arthurian literature and I am rarely disappointed with his work.

This book was a bit of a genre mix. I picked it up thinking historical novel and indeed it is, taking place in 1817, shortly after the events of Waterloo. In fact, the protagonist, Rider Sandman, was an officer in that battle but now finds himself in London, unemployed and in need of some coin. He is contracted by the Home Secretary and former Prime Minister, Henry Addington to investigate the accuracy of a guilty murder verdict for one Charles Corday, an apprentice painter now locked up in Newgate prison awaiting the hangman's noose. It seems the Queen herself is interested in the matter and has doubts that Mr. Corday is the actual murderer. So yes, the novel is set in 1817 London but it is largely a detective/mystery novel. And a fine one it is. Sandman's investigation is conducted over a seven day stretch and, as the book cover says, "takes him from the bowels of Newgate to the scented drawing rooms of the ruthless and powerful, and into the darkest shadows of the filthy, bustling city." A very nice read.

Someday, I'm going to have to get around to those Sharpe novels...

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10/06/2010 page 245

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