Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Book 27 of 2012: Raffles

My husband got a collection of ‘crime classics’ several months ago and has been working his way through them, in between reading other books. I don’t like to read his books until he’d read them but somehow I overlooked Raffles, by E.W. Hornung, when he finished with it. We can’t even remember exactly when it was that he read it, perhaps January/February time. It wasn’t until I was studying his bookshelf that I realised this. So when I’d finished with Inkheart I moved straight onto Raffles before I forgot it again.

E.W. Hornung was heavily inspired by his brother-in-law, none other than Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. And it shows. Raffles and Bunny are really the polar opposites of Holmes and Watson, while Doyle’s creations were solving crimes, Raffles was committing them. It’s really easy to make connections between the characters. Bunny recounts his exploits with Raffles in much the same was as Watson does. Raffles is the brains of the operation, only partially filling Bunny in with the finer points when he deems it necessary.

Raffles and Bunny are nowhere near Moriarty’s league of criminals though. Both are members of the wealthier classes who have fallen on hard times, mostly as a result of their own gambling and enjoying the high life. But there’s an element of the Robin Hood about them. They are happy to help out a friend who is in a similar situation to themselves and in trouble with a bit of a bad character. They don’t seem to get much out of the ventures mentioned in these stories, which I suppose is why they have to keep going back and stealing things again and again.

Despite the fact that they are thieves and you shouldn’t really like them, they are surprisingly likeable. I mean, they’re villains, but they’re very nice villains. And if you think that Holmes and Watson seem a bit close at times, they’ve got nothing on Raffles and Bunny. Probably not helped by the fact that Raffles calls Bunny Bunny. I realise I’m being terribly immature here, but sometimes books written over a hundred years ago can be quite unintentionally funny.

I did quite enjoy it, though some of the cricket references went rather over the top of my head. It was a nice quick read; I’ve come to quite enjoy reading books of short stories recently. In the last few years I’ve tended to choose novels over short story collections but there’s something very practical about short stories. You can read a couple before bed, one in your lunch break, whatever. Mr. Click prefers short story collections so we’ve got at least another five waiting on the bookshelf for him to read… three of which I might not wait for him to get to, they do look rather good.
‘The fact is, Bunny, I didn’t mean you to know. You – you’ve grown such a pious rabbit in your old age!’
My nickname and his tone went far to molify me, other things went farther, but I had much to forgive him still.
Page 135


  1. Ah Raffles, The Gentleman Thief! I read some of these when I was wee...and would get the oddest looks from librarians who felt I should probably be reading Topsy and Tim or some such! Used to love Biggles, Bulldog Drummond, Hannay and of course Holmes. Have you ever read Childers The Riddle Of The Sands Cait? I think you'd enjoy if you haven't

  2. I remember exhausting the children's section of the library and being thrilled when I was allowed into the adult section (even though they thought I was too young), shortly afterwards they made a teenage section which seemed to mostly be books about girls getting pregnant when they were fifteen, hehe.

    I've not read The Riddle of the Sands, though I am familiar with the name. Another one to add to the list methinks. ;-)

    I've just started the Moriarty book this weekend, really enjoying it. Moran is so bad compared to Watson... I kinda like it! :-D

    1. Ha, yes sounds like my childhood/teen years....I always avoided the teen section for that reason too, as a boy there was never anything in there to grab my attention. There just aren't really books for teen boys.

      Ooh it's a good book, you might know the film with Simon MacCorkindale? Good film too.

      Yeah, Moran is the other side of the coin isn't he? Like Moriarty is to Holmes. Hate to add more to your book list, but if you like the Moran narration, you might enjoy George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novels which Kim Newman was definitely inspired by. They're a hoot.


Let me know what you think. :-)