Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ratcatcher” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Matthew Hawkwood #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,234 ratings  ·  148 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
Paperback, 492 pages
Published 2006 by Harper Collins
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ratcatcher, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ratcatcher

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,234 ratings  ·  148 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ratcatcher
Dec 12, 2012 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 Hindustani). I
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
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars

I went into this book with no expectations. I'd never heard of it but I came across it at a used book store, saw that it was set during the Regency period, and decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did because I ended up really liking it. It features Matthew Hawkwood, a former rifleman in the British army, who now earns his living as a Bow Street runner. There was some interesting history and a satisfactory ending. I'd like to see future books delve a little deeper into Hawkwood's char
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

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
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
Sep 11, 2007 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. ...more
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Matthew Hawkwood was an officer in the 95th Rifles before he became a Bow Street Runner and has too many similarities to Richard Sharpe!
This was a fairly entertaining read, but I'm not sure if I can be bothered with the sequels.
Bodosika Bodosika
Just ok
too boring for me
a 10 year old might like it though
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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.
This would make a good movie or mini series. It is a thrilling mystery set in London. For some reason, however, it feels a little too long. Perhaps because all the women are uninteresting crones or sex objects.
Jan 02, 2013 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.
Ian Racey
A decent enough crime/spy adventure. I've heard the Hawkwood books called a Napoleonic James Bond series, and that sums it up very well, I think. Suffers a bit from a sense of anachronism in people's attitudes towards a number of social elements (professionalism, privilege, sex), but the thing that really lets it down is its sexual representation; which is to say, the novel's only female character of significance is really just there to be a sexual prize, in a pretty unbelievable way. Also the c ...more
Jan 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several clichés mar this first of the series which is nowhere near of the same quality as the other Hawkwood novels partly because of too many literally last-second escapes and the reluctance of the villains to kill Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood in 1811 London. However, it is exciting and the Georgian England setting is pretty convincing. Hawkwood is entangled in a Napoleonic plot involving prototype submarines after a couple of killings. A femme-fatale is well over-the-top and the hero a b ...more
Eric Bruce
May 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a re-read for me , having bought the book when it first came out . The story encompasses the early days of the Bow Street Runners - for whom ex- soldier Hawkwood now works - and the origins of submarines as a weapon . Napoleon's France seek to employ one to undermine Britain's navy and further their own dreams of European dominance ( sound familiar ? ) . An entertaining read set in the dark parts of London , with the traditional under-nourished children , grimy inns and willing women in ...more
Kevin Gardner
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First in the series

I have had this title on the tbr list for a long time and eventually got round to reading it. The story us set in the years during the Napoleonic wars is is about a plot involving the first submersible or submarine as we know them. All in it was a very enjoyable tale and I will be readingtherezt in the series.recommended.
A good Victorian mystery with plenty of ambiance and a main character that was easy for me to root for. There is a pretty explicit sex scene, but does turn out to be 'necessary' to the plot line later on. You can still skip the scene if you'd rather, just knowing that it happens will be enough. It can be bloody, and the author is not squeamish about the seedier aspects of life in Victorian London. This is not a 'feel good' romp through an imaginary Victorian London where everything comes up rose ...more
Phil Shaw
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m years behind all of you who are already fans of James McGee, but working on the premise that it’s better to be late than never I’m just glad that I’ve found him.
What a rollicking good read. Fast paced. Great characters. Good plot. One of those books you really don’t want to put down. Great fun, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to volume two.
Robert John
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story

This is the second time I have read this novel. I really enjoyed it both times. Although I had forgotten the storyline from the first time I read it. Anyhow its a cracking novel well written. Great characters, I highly recommend it. I am going to read the next novel in the series.
The hero is surprisingly un-herolike, more luke a damsel in distress, though this effect was bot the author's intention for this fellow. Numerous historical inaccuracies - myths potrayed as true historical realia - are alse grating. ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. I was not sure where it was going after the case through the underworld of London, but political intrigue commenced and..... a quick read with great page turning action. I did get lost a bit in the middle, but I’m sure others won’t!
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, not a book I went looking for, but an accidental find. It was enjoyable historical fiction with a very likable rascal hero. 1811 London with Good guys and bad guys..fights and explosions...killings...all keep the story moving! I will be reading more from Mister McGee!
Aug 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining read, although it does get a little goofy towards the end and Hawkwood makes some dumb decisions that left me baffled. Still fun enough to make me want to check out the rest of the series.
Maybe 3.5? I read this fairly slowly to begin with, and all the naval stuff didn't appeal to me much. ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great read
I don't quite understand the negative reviews for this book. I thought it was excellent. A high adventure. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Brethren (Brethren Trilogy, #1)
  • The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde, #1)
  • The Convictions of John Delahunt
  • The Straw Men (Straw Men #1)
  • The Butchered Man (Northminster Mysteries, #1)
  • The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar (The Three Investigators, #31)
  • Level 4 – Die Stadt der Kinder (Level 4, #1)
  • New Zealand
  • Maori Myths & Legendary Tales
  • The Blood of Rome (Eagle #17)
  • The Last Templar (Knights Templar, #1)
  • The Flood
  • The Grey Woman
  • Who Speaks for the Damned (Sebastian St. Cyr, #15)
  • Lost
  • Dicke Freunde
  • Whit
  • A Conspiracy of Paper (Benjamin Weaver, #1)
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Matthew Hawkwood (6 books)
  • Resurrectionist (Matthew Hawkwood, #2)
  • Rapscallion (Matthew Hawkood, #3)
  • Rebellion (Matthew Hawkwood, #4)
  • The Blooding (Matthew Hawkwood, #5)
  • The Reckoning (Matthew Hawkwood, #6)

News & Interviews

The beauty of a paperback novel is multidimensional. Allow me to explain: The format allows you to catch up on some of 2020's biggest books...
66 likes · 6 comments