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The Great Train Robbery

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  26,355 ratings  ·  1,434 reviews
From the bestselling author of Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Sphere comes an enthralling novel about Victorian London’s most notorious gold heist.

London, 1855, when lavish wealth and appalling poverty exist side by side, one mysterious man navigates both worlds with perfect ease. Edward Pierce preys on the most prominent of the well-to-do as he cunningly orchestrates the
Kindle Edition, Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Published May 14th 2012 by Vintage (first published May 12th 1975)
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M The boy's name was Spring Heel Jack. On page 8 of my copy Agar says to Pierce, "I heard...that on this train he was doing some some crow's peeping for…moreThe boy's name was Spring Heel Jack. On page 8 of my copy Agar says to Pierce, "I heard...that on this train he was doing some some crow's peeping for a particular gent that it putting up....I also heard that you are putting up." Being an American, I only speak the president's English, so I found the slang a little difficult, but I think it means that Pierce hired him to case the joint. The literary purpose of it was to show that Pierce is ruthless and didn't even care that he had gotten the boy killed for no reason. (less)
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Henry Avila
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the very proper Victorian days of the British Empire, a shocking event caused much consternation, eventually called, "The Great Train Robbery" of 1855, the newspapers are stunned imagine such a crime in this civilized age ! Gold bullion was stolen, from the luggage compartment and the guaranteed, tamper proof safes, ( were not) of the south bound iron horse, from London which was meant to arrive on the English coast, put in a ship for France, and later given to the brave soldiers in the Briti ...more
Dan Schwent
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
In Victorian London, can Edward Pierce and his cronies pull off a train heist and get away with a fortune in gold bullion?

Like quite a few of my reads over the years, this book appeared on my radar courtesy of Kemper. We were discussing the Breaking Bad episode Dead Freight and he asked if I'd ever read The Great Train Robbery. I said I hadn't and promptly forgot about it for a couple years until I ran across the Great Train Robbery in the local used bookstore.

The Great Train Robbery is a grippi
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Do you like Jigsaw puzzles? Imagine you are solving one: we'll start with hundreds of tiny pieces and a picture of the finished puzzle as the reference. That means we know where the puzzle is leading us, but we are not sure how all these tiny pieces are going to come together to form the big picture!

The Great Train Robbery by Micheal Crichton is a similar affair. In the initial pages itself, Crichton reveals where we are going: The Train robbery of 1855 was a success (They stole 2.5 million poun
Em Lost In Books
The book came highly recommended to me by Jaya, Tarinee, and Smitha. There must be something special about this book that they've such high regards fof this book. So I put all other books on my current read shelf on hold and started reading this. And I am so glad that I read it. This book is a perfect blend of historical fiction, crime, and heist.

As the title suggests, it is about a train robbery. But once you start reading, you find that it is much more than that. It tell us about the culture,
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dyuti by: Adhip
Reasons why I implore you to check out this book

The Setting: The 1850's, Victorian England. Rich, colourful and detailed, this is one of the most dynamic periods of English history, forever loved by readers both young and old. It was a world of contradictions: beneath the aforementioned richness, lay the pall of poverty, sickness, prostitution and death, harboured by the ongoing Industrial Revolution. The author, Michael Chrichton flits so seamlessly between the two, that it creates a wonde
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Crichton
If I am capable of guilt when it comes to my literary tastes The Great Train Robbery could be a "guilty pleasure," but how can a man who did his honours thesis on Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery feel any guilt over loving The Great Train Robbery?

He can't. And I don't.

It is an exemplar of what I call cinematic writing: novel length prose that the author ultimately intends for the screen.

The characters are skill-based and maleable (sometimes even interchangeable), the chase -- either
This one was a a really great and exciting read. I had picked it out from my library without knowing how good it really is. Initially I even thought if the book is fiction or true crime.

Reviewing this book is a bit of a challenge as I don't want to include any spoilers and mar the joy of reading this novel.

As the name suggests, the novel is about a daring train robbery and it was carried out during the Victorian era in London. At that time, the railways were seen as the symbol of progress and te
Nandakishore Varma
This is the book which introduced me to Michael Crichton, and his inimitable way of mixing fact and fiction so that the borders are blurred, like shading is done in watercolour paintings. I loved it enough to read almost all of his remaining works.

As some critic once said: "Michael Crichton is too serious to be considered a popular writer, and too popular to be considered serious." Spot on.
Jan 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I was not expecting this to be written as a factual book with a little bit of dramatisation thrown in to cover the unknown parts of the history. It didn't work for me in the slightest. The large info dumps were scattered throughout, pretty much every chapter starts with them and then almost as an afterthought parts with characters added in.

I started skimming this about 100 pages in, if this was any larger I'd have quit on it at that point (I'd feel bad for DNF'ing two books in a row too). T
Kakashi Hatake
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Do you like a well written historical fiction ?

Do you like a brilliant edge of seat crime thriller where you encounter twists with the turn of each page ?

Do you cherish a book with an intelligent,vicious and meticulous yet manipulative , cunning and ruthless anti-hero whose plannings/layers are so brilliant and detailed that he can easily give Scotland yard a run for their money ?

Do you enjoy Victorian England as the setup of your story ? An England of two parallel civilization of obvious contra
Book Concierge
In 1855 a gang of thieves carried out an elaborate scheme to rob a train of the gold bullion scheduled to serve as payroll for the soldiers fighting in the Crimean War. “The Victorians always referred to this crime in capital letters, as The Great Train Robbery.” This is Crichton’s fictionalized novel based on what is known of the truth, with a good deal of conjecture and embellishment.

What a rollicking good story! I was entertained from beginning to end. Crichton starts out with a recitation of
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fabulous book in the historical thriller genre. I learned a great deal about Victorian London upon reading.

Published in 1974. Very similar to Devil in the White City. Both books present a masterful villain in a city known for its historically high crime. Perhaps less dramatic than Devil in the White City but more educational. You know who the villain is from the first page so the book tells you how he pulled off the heist. There is a major plot twist at the end that is the icing on the cake.
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember watching the film of this years ago and really enjoying it. What made the book so good was the details and context of Victorian society during that period. Highly informative and fascinating.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: My Lovely Wife
Author Michael Crichton takes pains to emphasize that, much the same as Clavell's Shogun, this is a work of fiction. Still, it employs a historical tone albeit a juicy one. As such it's mostly a setting-and-plot novel with little concern for characters and relationships. This novel is thus based on the actual thieves and the infamous train robbery of 1855.

The mastermind (Edward Pierce) undertakes to rob a train, which makes a regular run with gold bullion. The booty was locked in two custom-buil
For some reason, whenever someone had mentioned this book to me earlier, I had always pictured a cowboy on horseback chasing down a train in the wild, wild west, complete with a lasso in his hand. I have no idea how I made that relation but the image stuck. And since cowboys and westerns were not really my thing, I had never felt the urge to pick this book up, until now.

Oh, how so very wrong I had been!

You can safely assume I kicked myself a fair number of times after I was about a quarter-way t
Although "The Great Train Robbery" was a real event, I had no idea what it was all about. Sure, I had heard about it (i.e., I knew its name) and was aware that Crichton had written a book (still quite popular) about the theft and that it even inspired a movie of the same name starring Sean Connery.

And after reading this book, I think that being totally ignorant about the event highly paid-off as I enjoyed the book way much more than I had anticipated. It really felt as if the movie "Ocean's Elev
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some reviewers wanted less historical and technical explication and more story.

That makes sense to me. Yet I found the story less compelling and satisfying than the research reports that buffer the spurts of story. But that’s a relative comparison.

The book started out with some promise, but before I was halfway through I remembered that I’m only interested in heist stories when the characters are vivid and interesting, and the story has zip and momentum.

I hung in till the end, but interesting
Jayanth - A Capricious Reader
Thoroughly thrilling! I loved it!

I like that the story is told in past tense, as a recollection of the robbery from 1855. It worked so well in creating awe and underlining the stunning nature of the whole story as it warranted.

It was so fascinating to read all the preparation that went into pulling off what was then termed the crime of the century in England. This was such a good historical crime thriller, it's amazing that this has actually happened. The perpetrators of the robbery planned and
Jason Parent
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aside from the somewhat dull history lessons that pop up here and there, this tale was a nice, fun read. Pierce, the main antagonist/protagonist, comes off as a clever rogue who you want to see succeed, even though his actions endanger lives, none more so than his own. The planning and execution of the robbery is explained in detail, evincing a brazenness one can't help but admire.

Definitely recommended.

J.Aleksandr Wootton
Difficult to classify. Not a true novel, as more than 50% consists of direct historical exposition, summaries and quotes from Crichton's research. Perhaps not reliable enough to count as "creative nonfiction", it's something closer to dramatized reporting heavily interspersed with fictional passages. Opens a window onto Victorian society and the London criminal underworld through an expose of an extraordinarily patient, masterfully-planned heist.

Assuming that the man presumed to have been behin
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
“It is difficult, after the passage of more than a century, to understand the extent to which the train robbery of 1855 shocked the sensibilities of Victorian England. At first glance, the crime hardly seems”

I’m trying to read more Michael Crichton - have a lot of his stuff but haven’t actually read much of him yet. This was certainly a different plot type than some of his later works that I have read, like Sphere and Jurassic Park.

I’m a fan of Crichton’s writing style in the books I’ve read,
This is a novel written to make it look more like literary nonfiction, but make no mistake, it's complete and utter fiction as far as the story is concerned. I have read my fair share of novels like this before, so there was no novelty for me there, but perhaps when he first wrote it it was less common, I really couldn't say. Most of the novel is about the planning and executing--I know you'll be shocked--a train robbery that was considered impossible to do.

I neither loved nor hated this novel w
Chris Dietzel
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this in high school and enjoyed it. I just re-read it and think it might be my favorite of all of Crichton's books. It has a great blend of historical fiction, nonfiction, and the author's natural ability to provide a sense of excitement and adventure. Highly recommended even if you typically only enjoy Crichton's science fiction. ...more
Angus McKeogh
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say this one was really, really, really good and I was entertained thoroughly. Expected maybe okay and was pleasantly surprised; certainly that has an effect on how I rate a book. I was excited to get back and read this book every time I picked it up which is definitely not always the case. Reminded me of a milder version of In Cold Blood. A nonfiction historical “novel” about a crime where lots of information was taken directly from trial transcripts. Extremely engaging. Germane infor ...more
Edwin Priest
Michael Crichton has another side it seems, that of the detective historian. The Great Train Robbery is Crichton’s retelling of a famous train robbery in mid-19th century Victorian England and the enigmatic mastermind behind it, William Pierce.

In telling us this tale, Crichton takes us on a tour of Victorian England and its’ culture and morals. It is educational and compelling and paints a vivid Dickens-like picture of the London underworld, full of British criminal slang and flavor. The actual
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Michael Crichton, heists and/or Victorian London
This book had all the ingredients for a great adventure -- a charming rogue for a lead character, an intricate Ocean's Eleven-style heist, a well-drawn Victorian London setting (you could almost feel Sherlock Holmes in the background investigating), and top-notch writing.

However, since it is made clear in the beginning of the novel that the heist was pulled off successfully, the story is lacking any "will they or won't they pull it off" suspense. The fact that the novel is still so gripping and
Shawn Deal
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I don’t know how this gem of a book fell off my radar for so long. Using lots of historical research, Crichton has done an expert job of putting this crime back together. I really enjoyed this.
I would love to see the movie version of this, which Crichton also wrote and directed. Sean Connery as Edward Pierce, the mastermind behind the robbery that threw Victorian England for a loop. He really was a smart guy. It's obvious Crichton did his research about the period (apparently he became obsessed with the Victorian criminal underworld). The book is chock full of criminal slang. You catch the meaning eventually, and it certainly lends an atmosphere.

This was a bit hard to get into at firs
Eli Hornyak
Should be a 3.5, the background of the time period in some of the chapters was a bit much. Not what I expected this book to be. but still an interesting read. Especially if you like historical true crime.
A thinking man's adventure-thriller -- even more so than any of his other works, this is easily Crichton's second-best novel over the course of his career. In almost every other effort he relentlessly covered contemporary or near-future territory and the theme of scary, or potentially dystopia-invoking technology. Here, 'Train Robbery' is where he really wrote something out of his usual comfort zone. Something really unique both for him and for the thriller genre.

It has quite a lot going for it.
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Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was one of the most successful novelists of his generation, admired for his meticulous scientific research and fast-paced narrative. He graduated summa cum laude and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. His first novel, Odds On (1966), was written under the pseudonym John Lange and was followed by seven more Lange novels. He also wrote as Michael Doug ...more

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