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Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman

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

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,152 ratings  ·  248 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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Jolly Molly If I'm correct in assuming pastiche is a fancy word for fanfiction, you could try your luck on Archive of Our Own. Be careful though, it's a minefield…moreIf I'm correct in assuming pastiche is a fancy word for fanfiction, you could try your luck on Archive of Our Own. Be careful though, it's a minefield. Choose carefully...(less)

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 ·  2,152 ratings  ·  248 reviews

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Start your review of Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman (A.J. Raffles, The Gentleman Thief #1)
Oct 28, 2012 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
Dec 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Raffles and Bunny are two young gentlemen with large debts and no desire to work for a living. They turn to crime, specifically burglary, to continue to live their lives of idle luxury. The stories are clearly inspired by and partially parodies of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Raffles is cold, logical, and nigh-superhuman. Bunny is dim enough that the reader gets the pleasure of knowing more than he does and sniggering at all that he misses. It's got some casual racism typical of its time, and no ...more
Sep 06, 2015 rated it liked it
An utterly delightful romp; more fun than Holmes.
Jun 15, 2008 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 find ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 30, 2020 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tbr-shelf
The format is borrowed from Doyle, but Raffles is so very Wilde, and I have no problem seeing the story's Bunny as Bosie. I haven't encountered a love so pure since Point Break. Reading these stories is going to be an unsullied delight. ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well enough written but absolutely mind-numbing. Raffles is a dick and Bunny is caught in his headlights.

Written as an anti-hero with his brother-in-law's real hero in sight (Holmes), I can only suggest he failed miserably to redress the balance.
Nov 19, 2008 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
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

From BBC Radio 4Extra:
Bunny is surprised and pleased to be invited by Raffles to share the latter's self-imposed 'rest cure' in a large house in Kensington.

But Raffles, needless to say, has his own somewhat nefarious reasons for wanting to take a holiday...

Starring Jeremy Clyde as AJ Raffles, Michael Cochrane as Bunny Manders, Christopher Benjamin as Colonel Crutchley, Laurence Payne as the Porter and Norman Bird as the Cabby.

EW Hornung's Raffles stor
Stephen Robert Collins
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sherlock Holmes was written by Conan Doyle but his brother in law got sick of him & his ego going and on about Holmes so he decided to put pen to paper but instead of dective he created a Robin Hood style anti hero Raffles
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
bunny is definitely in love with raffles.
Did not finish.

A. J. Raffles must be just about THE most annoying character ever created. Narcisistic, and borderline psychopathic. And Bunny is a snivelling little wimp.

Managed two and a half stories before throwing in the towel.
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This one was interesting. Raffles struck me as a weird love child of Moriarty and Robin Hood, and his friend Bunny, who narrates, is wildly head over heels for him. Wildly. Passionately. His description of Raffles barely a few pages in is practically swooning over him, and he gets hilariously jealous when Raffles spends more time with a girl than he does with Bunny. I'm still not really on board with the thievery (honestly, their spending and/or gambling habits must be completely absurd to get t ...more
Patrick Murtha
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A.J. Raffles periodically re-surfaces as a classic character of popular fiction, and just as quickly drops out of sight again, exactly as E.W. Hornung frequently describes him doing in the 26 short stories and single novel that he devoted to Raffles - about half the output that Arthur Conan Doyle produced about Sherlock Holmes. Hornung, famously, was married to Conan Doyle's sister, and patterned his stories of the gentleman thief and champion cricketer Raffles, and his sidekick Bunny Mander, af ...more
Jun 19, 2010 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
DeAnna Knippling
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A gentleman thief who is no gentleman!

I'd read a couple of other classic gentleman-thief books (Lupin, Phantomas), so I was expecting something similar. Nope. These are the stories of how two men-about-town slide down the slippery slope of crime, with no pretense of solving crimes or stealing from the rich to give to the poor. There's acid to the stories--as if we were reading the modern stories of how a famous sports figure and a famous journalist, presumed to be wealthy on the basis of their w
My particular edition includes the original eight stories first published in The Amateur Cracksman with an additional six stories published under the title The Black Mask (UK)/Raffles: The Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman (USA). The connections to Sherlock Holmes and Watson are obvious. Bunny is the faithful chronicler and admirer. Raffles keeps his cards close to his chest--sometimes to the detriment of his plans. He praises Bunny for his loyalty and willingness to do anything necess ...more
Dannica Zulestin
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
I love Raffles and Bunny playing the anti-Holmes duo, and the weird adventures they get up to. I'd love it more, though, if they did more actual burglary and less "we almost did a burglary but for one reason or another we did not actually commit the burglary." Feels like Hornung is hedging bc of Victorian morality and damn it, I just want some thieves doing thief stuff! Give me the Lupin vibes! ...more
Michael P.
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
Tony Calder
An excellent example of late-Victorian / early-Edwardian storytelling. While Raffles as a character is certainly well known, E.W. Hornung is certainly not as well known as his brother-in-law Arthur Conan Doyle - but he should be, as Raffles is every bit as memorable a character as Sherlock Holmes.

Both the Raffles stories and the Holmes stories have crime as their central theme, although they come at it from different sides. This is not to say that they are mirror images of each other - Raffles i
Raffles and Bunny are buddies! They are buddies with a complex setup though, since A.J. Raffles lead his old school chum Bunny (our narrator) into a life of “amateur” crime which forever complicates their lives. If nothing else, this is an interesting window into late 19th century England, where high class men gambled away everything they had and would rather steal than resort to work.

Like many have pointed out, this is very like Holmes and Watson's dynamic, only applied to thieves rather than
These stories were darker than I was expecting. I would count this a novel rather than a collection of short stories, as although each chapter is episodic and could theoretically be read as an individual short story, they do follow a longer narrative and are best read in order. The set up is of gentleman thieves, Raffles and Bunny, and their house breaking activities. At the beginning the stories had a softer more P.G. Wodehouse feel to them, but the risks and consequences of their exploits are ...more
Bookshire Cat
As the first Sherlockian fanfiction, it is a delight - and written by no one else than Doyle's brother-in-law. I daresay he wrote it as explicit as he could in the 19th century without being accused of gross indecency.

But as for its literary qualities, it has next to none and the stories become boring rather quickly. Raffles is not really clever, his cunning comes just from the fact that he never tells his sidekick anything. And Bunny is so smitten by his good looks and charisma that he lets hi
Nicholas Martens
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm on a roll with gentleman thieves, following up Guy Boothby's Prince of Swindlers with the first Raffles stories. On the one hand, Raffles doesn't operate on a scale as grand as Simon Carne, but the collection doesn't burn itself out as quickly, either. It's a solid set of stories, no one of them clearing the high bar set by Boothby's "Duchess of Wiltshire's Diamonds," but it was enjoyable to the end, without repeating itself or resorting to too-implausible scenarios. ...more
Kali Samutratanakul
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
"this conversation is so gay i had to take off my glasses" -me, reading the gift of the emperor

i'll share with you what my dear friend ernest told me that convinced me to read this: if you liked the gay crime-solving boyfriends, sherlock holmes and john watson, i'd love to suggest to you, two gay crime-committing boyfriends, aj raffles and bunny manders. huge fun to read.

i highly recommend the annotated version, available for free here (the stories are in public domain): http://www.rafflesredux.
Jeff Johnston
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I certainly liked the idea portrayed by Horning (Raffles 'The Gentleman Thief'), however for me there was never enough content, intrigue or character building of the protagonists within each internal affair.

This was the first story from an Omnibus 'The Collected Raffles'. Hopefully, the next couple stories will deliver more.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
1899. That's the only excuse. There are hints of a really good writer, but Rsffles the gentleman their comes across as a harmless sociopath, and the narrator is clearly in an abusive relationship with him. ...more
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, x
SO! I have now read all of the books in this series, and will sum them up thusly:

Baffles is the thief-ier foil to SherWat and it's awesome.

I was planning a whole amazingly detailed review but have decided I want to take that time to reread it instead and will probably just end up editing this with a bunch of out of context sex jokes from the text. And if you were hoping I was never going to us those portmanteaus again, you would sadly be mistaken.
Andrew Logan
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an adventure. This is nonsense. This is (mainly) fun. It is limited and absurd. It is more a view of how people liked to imagine their society (as a place where people like this might exist) than it is a book that gives a view of a society as it once was.

This edition has a wealth of footnotes, most of which seem right and useful (and some of which are one or the other and some, I think, neither).

Definitely worth a look. Weak ending but overall very much a good read.
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is about the exploits of Raffles and Bunny, two criminally-minded yet outwardly respectable young gentleman. The heist/crime aspects were highly entertaining, as was Bunny’s devotion/ love for Raffles. Seriously in almost every paragraph Bunny would talk about Raffles “tousled hair”, and how he was jealous when he talked to women. I would say the the main downside was a bit of casual racism (it was published in 1899 so I’m not surprised). Despite this I found it enjoyable and a quick, fun r ...more
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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

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 (A.J. Raffles, The Gentleman Thief #4)

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