Raffles: The Gentleman Thief
A "Raffles" Short Story by Richard Foreman
Review: A. J. Raffles is a character created by E. W. Hornung, who wrote about his exploits in a series of short stories published in the late 19th century. Richard Foreman continues the character in a new series of short stories, the first of which is Raffles: The Gentleman Thief.
Raffles is a contemporary of Sherlock Holmes — indeed, Hornung was Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law — though the two do not meet in any of their respective stories. Until now. Well, sort of. Actually, it is Raffles' biographer, Harry "Bunny" Manders, who has the dubious pleasure of meeting the famous consulting detective. "Now we both know Mr. Manders," Sherlock Holmes says to him upon his arrival at 221b Baker Street, "that I could have you arrested for several counts of burglary." Bunny cannot deny his accusation and simply waits for what is to come. Holmes explains that a certain letter, the contents of which cannot be made public, is hidden within a bookseller's safe. "So I am charging you and Mr. Raffles with resolving the situation." Bunny understands perfectly well what needs to be done.
Readers unfamiliar with the Hornung characters will almost certainly recognize Holmes and Watson, and there are many similarities between the pairs. The narrative style of Raffles: The Gentleman Thief is very much respectful of the original stories, and there is a comforting familiarity to both the plot and how it unfolds. There's a twist, of course, one that is not entirely unexpected but one that has some nuanced subtlety to it.
Possibly the only disappointing element to the story is how pedestrian the actual theft is. One imagines Raffles as a thief who engages in burglaries that require more elaborate planning and creative execution. This one is simplicity itself; Holmes himself calls it "trifling". It suits the purpose of the story, but seems a little common for a man of his talents.
Acknowledgment: The author provided a copy of Raffles: The Gentleman Thief for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Raffles: The Gentleman Thief: London, England
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Raffles: The Gentleman Thief by Richard Foreman — A "Raffles" Short Story
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Publication Date: February 2012
List Price: $2.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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