The Amateur Cracksman
7 journalers for this copy...
[Update, 6/15/2007: I noticed that I was not receiving ANY of the journal-entry emails on this book during its bookray travels, and wondered if it might be due to the word "Raffles" in the title - stranger things have happened with spam filters! So I've removed that from the title, as I believe the original title was just plain The Amateur Cracksman anyway, and if/when there's another journal entry I'll find out if my guess was correct...]
Here we first meet Bunny Manders and learn how he encounters Raffles, who'd been a much-admired senior boy when they were at school. Bunny is in dire straits, having bet money he doesn't have, and as Raffles is one of the people he lost to he's gone to ask for - well, he isn't sure; just to explain and confess before he blows his own brains out. But to his surprise Raffles laughs it off, admitting that he's short of cash himself, and suggesting a way to correct the situation. To Bunny's shock, Raffles sketches a plan for a robbery, but such is his desperation - and his unwillingness to be seen as less than "game" by Raffles - he goes along. And thus begins their partnership, and the saga of Raffles the "gentleman thief". [Raffles' own rationale: "Of course, it's very wrong, but we can't all be moralists, and the distribution of wealth is very wrong to begin with."]
Bunny's conscience never does quite give up trying to turn him away from Raffles' periodic crime sprees, but it always seems to fight a losing battle - either the need for more money tips the balance, or Bunny's desire to prove himself to Raffles (to whom he rapidly becomes devoted, in a rather tormented way, admiring him yet greatly distressed by Raffles' apparent lack of scruples). It becomes clear to the reader that Raffles is aware of this and plays on it whenever he wants Bunny's help, and by the final story I admit I was stunned at the extent of his duplicity - though to be fair he always puts himself at as much risk as anyone else, even though his own quickness and luck seem to get him out of it while others may not be so lucky.
There are more stories, which I haven't read yet, so I know that this book is not the end of Raffles, but just how Bunny will be persuaded to have anything to do with him after this I am not certain...
There's definitely a stronger push-pull of motivation and human desires in these stories than in the Holmes books, which are deliberately aimed at the clinical, emotionless side of things - that's probably part of Hornung's aim in creating the flip side of Holmes and Watson. While the Raffles stories are often funny, they're also emotionally draining and quite dark - and I'm thoroughly enjoying them!
[Update: I found a collection of all of the Raffles stories, including this set plus two follow-on collections: The Complete Short Stories of Raffles the Amateur Cracksman. If you enjoy the first set, it's worth looking up the rest.]
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Participants in mailing order:
I'm sending this to BCer AgnesXNitt in the UK, to kick off the bookray; hope you enjoy it!
I love the stilted language - Raffles is quite the amoral Sherlock Holmes isn't he?
'Thank you' card made for you GoryDetails, and will be in the post on Monday!
I've PM'd Zugenia, and as soon as she lets me know her address, I will post this one on, with the usual enclosed.
Thank you again!
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Another trip to the post office! Posted today to catch 1700hrs pick up by the Post office so it's winging it's way to you!
I've just send a second PM to emmagoldmanzine (I had a problem receiving PMs the other week and hope I've not just missed her message) so once I have her address, I'll get the book in the mail.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Received the address of the next reader and mailing it out.
Reserved for sqdancer
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Mailed to sqdancer
I'm in just the right mood for this book. I've already started reading it.
I see that I am now the last person on this ray, and I was thinking that I would pass this book along to my MIL who loves mysteries and is a voracious reader.