Gallows Thief Hardcover – 2002
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SIR HENRY FORREST, banker and alderman of the City of London, almost gagged when he entered the Press Yard, for the smell was terrible, worse than the reek of the sewer outflows where the Fleet Ditch oozed into the Thames. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are a Sharpe fan, don't expect nail-biting, in-your-face battles and sieges. While our hero, Rider Sandman, resides in the same era, he is no comparison to Sharpe in personality or vocation; this is strictly a murder mystery. Although no real clues per se, the journey to finding the killer is nonetheless enjoyable, both plot and characters full-fledged and engaging. This story is more about how Sandman deals with his new station in society, the varying strata of society, and the nature of people he meets and befriends throughout than it is about 'who done it'. I would have liked to have seen more of the mysterious Jack "Robin" Hood, but Sandman's other allies make for a disparate, likable enough crowd.
My one complaint is the anti-climatic ending. The suspense of the innocent's imminent death was irritatingly interrupted by hangman's procedures that had already been fully and adequately described in the beginning. The constant back and forth between the final "chase scene" and the hanging ruined the tension; you'd miss nothing if you skipped over the prison scenes at the end to get to the good stuff.
Captain Rider Sandman is honorable, brave, consentious and, of course, poor as a church mouse. In order to keep body and soul together, he accepts the job of Inspector. In this case, he is given the uneviable task of determining the guilt or innocence of an already condemned man.
Sandman's allies are a disparate group. Sally Hood, actress and sometime model for various painters, is Sandman's tutor in the slang and life of London's slums. Her want-to-be beau and eventually Sandman's strong right arm is the very capable Sergent Berrigan. Her elusive and mysterious brother is Jack a.k.a. Robin Hood, a notorious Highwayman. The club-footed Lord Alexander is his true, if somewhat flighty friend. Finally, there is Eleanor, Sandman's somtime finace. To add a bit more spice, Eleanor and Sandman are still desparately in love dispite her mother's objections.
The opposition is rich, arrogant, and devoid of all scruples or any sense of honor. Members of the Seraphim Club consider themselves too rich or too well born to be subject to the law.
The chase for the truth careens through the upper crust of English society, the slums of London and the normally bucolic English countryside. It is a wild and intriguing ride.
Bottom Line: The story plods along from start to the predictable (groan) finish with really no excitement or surprises. I think Cornwall is a great writer and I'll continue to read is work, but the unevenness of his novels is frustrating.
Most recent customer reviews
Bernard Cornwell's novels are always so much fun to read! Every book he writes makes the reader a time traveller in which the setting, characterization, dialogue, social mores and... Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2003 by Tim Smith
I truly enjoyed this book. If you like historical fiction - get this book! Mr. Cornwell really makes history come alive with the story of the Newgate prison, the politics and... Read morePublished on June 6 2003
This is the first Cornwell book I have read. It was excellent. If you like historical fiction you will be enthralled. Read morePublished on June 3 2003 by Moving On
The Gallows Thief is enriched by excellent period research but not overwhelmed by it. Bernard Cornwell is a brilliant writer who knows how to weave research throughout his... Read morePublished on March 30 2003 by Jo Manning
Really I think this one is an alternative subject on wich he moves with easyness and masterfully knowledge, and the hero is very different from Sharpe (but less cryptical... Read morePublished on March 24 2003 by ADB
This is much more than a historical whodonit. Sandman, the hero, has just suffered a reverse of fortune when the story begins: his father has committed suicide because he was... Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2003 by ex nihilo