The Amateur Cracksman

by E. W. Hornung | Mystery & Thrillers |
ISBN: 0141439335 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 5/26/2005
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, May 26, 2005
I found this decent-condition paperback (1988 edition, different cover than shown) in the book-sale rack of the Nashua Public Library. As I'd seen references to Raffles the amateur cracksman (aka "the gentleman burglar") in many other books over the years, I almost feel as if I know all about him - but I don't think I've read more than one or two of the Raffles stories. So when I saw this on the library sale shelf for a mere 50 cents I had to grab it.

[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...]

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, February 26, 2006
Hornung, who happened to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, wrote the Raffles stories as a sort of homage/dark-side version of Sherlock Holmes; Doyle had mixed feelings about this, admiring the writing but worried about making a criminal into the protagonist. I had read a story or two in anthologies, and found them interesting, but I hadn't gotten the whole picture until I read this collection of the first eight Raffles stories.

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.]

Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, July 15, 2006
I'm offering this for a bookray; see the forum post here.

Bookray/ring instructions:

When you receive the book, please journal it, and PM the next person in line for their address so you'll have it ready when you've finished the book.
Note: even if you've sent books to that person before, please PM them before mailing this one, to confirm that the address is correct and that they're able to take on a bookring book at this time.
Try and read the book promptly - ideally, within a month of receiving it. (If you expect to take longer, you can request to be put at the end of the list. If you find you're swamped with other books when the person before you contacts you about the bookring, you can ask to be skipped, and then let me know whether you'd like to be moved down the list or dropped entirely. If you receive the book and find it's taking longer than you'd planned to get through it, I'd appreciate an update in its journal entries or on your profile, just to let me and the other participants know you haven't forgotten it.)

When you're ready to pass the book along, please make another journal entry containing your comments about the book and stating where you've sent it, and set the book's status code to "traveling". [If you find that you're having problems contacting the next person in line, or don't think you can manage to mail the book as I've listed it, please let me know; I'll be glad to try to work something out.]


Participants in mailing order:

AgnesXNitt [UK]
zugenia [Arkansas]
ladilee24 [Pennsylvania]
emmagoldmanzine [Pennsylvania]
krin511 [Maryland]
sqdancer [Canada]
rebeccaljames [Ohio]

Journal Entry 4 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, July 31, 2006
Controlled release:

I'm sending this to BCer AgnesXNitt in the UK, to kick off the bookray; hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 5 by AgnesXNitt from Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Saturday, August 05, 2006
Received in the post on Friday - have already started 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!

Journal Entry 6 by AgnesXNitt from Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Monday, August 07, 2006
Finished yesterday afternoon. Just the thing for a lazy Sunday. Thanks for the lend GoryDetails!
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!


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!

Journal Entry 8 by zugenia from Hamilton, Ontario Canada on Saturday, August 19, 2006
Raffles has landed in Arkansas! Thanks for passing it along, and for the gorgeous postcard, AgnesXNitt!

Journal Entry 9 by ladilee24 from Newark, Delaware USA on Monday, December 04, 2006
This book just arrived today, along with a nice postcard from zugenia. I am looking forward to reading this and will start it tonight.

Journal Entry 10 by ladilee24 from Newark, Delaware USA on Thursday, December 07, 2006
After reading in GoryDetails' entry that Raffles was a sort of opposite of Holmes, I was quite interested to read these stories. Raffles is quite the rake, cool and collected like Holmes, but also with a a strong sensse of how to play his sidekick, Bunny's, emotions. I don't know that I entirely liked Raffles as a character, but I admired his pluck. I also thought it was the perfect piece of irony that Bunny's name was Bunny, as the man is timid and easily controlled by his fears, just like a rabbit might be. Good stories here, though they did feel dated at times. All in all, I am glad I read this and it made for very engaging train reading this past week.

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.

Released 11 yrs ago (12/10/2006 UTC) at mailed to next reader in Postal release, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases



Received the address of the next reader and mailing it out.

Journal Entry 12 by emmagoldmanzine from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA on Thursday, December 28, 2006
I received the book today, which is great since I just finished the book I was reading this morning, so I will start on this one tonight.

Journal Entry 13 by emmagoldmanzine from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA on Wednesday, January 03, 2007
I read the first to chapters of this book and could not get into it. I'm not sure why, I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it at the moment and since it's a ring I can't really put it on the shelf until I might be ready, so I sent it off to krin511 in the mail today. Enjoy.

Journal Entry 14 by krin511 from Olney, Maryland USA on Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Arrived today. I'll start reading it later this week.

Journal Entry 15 by krin511 from Olney, Maryland USA on Thursday, January 18, 2007
I enjoyed reading this stories, especially the ways Raffles eluded capture via disguises and changing travel plans.

Reserved for sqdancer

Journal Entry 16 by krin511 at by mail in To the next participant, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, January 20, 2007

Released 11 yrs ago (1/20/2007 UTC) at by mail in To the next participant, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



Mailed to sqdancer

Journal Entry 17 by sqdancer on Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Arrived safe and sound.

I'm in just the right mood for this book. I've already started reading it.

Journal Entry 18 by sqdancer on Monday, March 05, 2007
I enjoyed this book very much. I'm going to have to search out the other Raffles stories now.

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.

Journal Entry 19 by sqdancer on Tuesday, May 29, 2007
My mother-in-law is too shy to journal, but she says she enjoyed the book and is passing it along to her daughter to read (as you can see see, the family has been *unofficially* bookcrossing for years :))

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