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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

Currently reading

The Dead Zone
Stephen King
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
Samuel Richardson, Angus Ross
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Piper Kerman
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith
Raffles - E.W. Hornung, Robert Giddings Harry 'Bunny' Manders hasn't been enamoured with the way his life has been going. In fact, he wishes to end it all. He's in terrible debt, and unsure about his future. Enter Arthur J. Raffles, Bunny's old school chum from his public school days, an upperclassman whom he looks up to and respects. Over a simple game of baccarat, it is revealed that both of them are up to their necks in debt, and have not a penny between them. But this isn't the end of the road for Mr. Raffles. In fact, it marked a whole new beginning.'Do you think that because a fellow has rooms at this place and belongs to a club or two and plays a little cricket, he must necessarily have a balance in the bank? ...I have nothing but my wits to live on.'Raffles, having paved his way as a gentleman burglar, is in need of an accomplice to keep guard whilst he executes some of his trickier escapades. So with little more than a gentlemanly handshake and a few questions as to how good Raffles must be to steal from the rich and never ever get caught, Bunny returns to his roots by going off on larcenous adventures with the boy he 'fagged' for back at boarding school. Raffles also makes clear that he doesn't do petty robberies."My dear fellow, I would rob St. Paul's Cathedral if I could, but I could no more scoop a till when the shop-worker wasn't looking than I could bag apples out of a poor old woman's basket."Nope, Raffles is in this line of work simply for the thrill of the hunt. Think Carmen Sandiego from the computer games and TV series fondly remembered by children of the 1980s/1990s. He goes for things that should be, by all rights, impossible to steal, and does the job with aplomb, utilising a set of lock-picking devices, a keen eye and ear, a series of clever disguises, and his smarts, attracted to certain objects like a moth to a flame, or a magpie to a shiny object. In fact, in the second story, Raffles insists he must steal some one-of-a-kind diamonds from a rich South African entrepreneur, who happens to have an enormous prize fighter as a bodyguard. Did I mention how much I love these two characters? If not, then I'll mention it again. I love A.J. Raffles and Bunny from top to bottom and side to side. They play so well off each other; one is a conniving cricketer, and the other is incredibly innocent and naïve.This novel is just wonderful. E.W. Hornung's prose is as relevant and witty as it must have been back in 1899, and it's so much fun for me, as a Sherlock Holmes fan to see his counterpart: a dastardly gentleman thief who robs from the rich.The first few stories were very gripping, very much in the same vein as the early Sherlock Holmes stories, but it seems that after a while, Raffles' expert burgling skills were forgotten about. In some stories, a great deal of time is given to setting the scene, as well as any mishaps that may occur (i.e., a detective lurking in the area, Bunny being discovered, Raffles deciding to withhold information from his partner in crime), meaning that often, the climax of the stories fly by without much pomp and circumstance. It was sometimes like: 'Oh, we eventually acquired the jewel/painting/shiny thing, my fellow magpie! Towards the next story, wot wot!'Otherwise, though, this is an incredibly fun little read. The two lead characters have great chemistry, akin to Holmes and Watson, and even though they're dastardly rogues stealing after taking a fancy to certain items, they're incredibly lovable. Bunny is even given tests every once in a while by his cricketing chum to prove he's not just an excuse for the author to see into Raffles' schemes and adventures as a criminal who almost always manages to get away with his heinous crimes. 4/5.