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Raffles: Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman by E. W. Hornung []



Did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law E. W Hornung was also a successful author? Hornung’s hero, A. J. Raffles is a “debonair, witty and cricket-loving gentleman thief” too selfish to be a Robin Hood, but too noble to steal from those he feels can ill-afford it, and patriotic enough that he goes to war for his country and once, after making suitable precautions to avoid self-incrimination, he arranges for the spoils of a particularly splendid heist to be a gift to the queen.

Like those of Sherlock Holmes, the exploits of A. J. Raffles are told from the perspective of a devoted friend and accomplice. In place of Doctor Watson, Raffles has Harry Manders, more usually known, at least to his criminal friend, as Bunny. Bunny Manders is a struggling journalist and surprisingly innocent given his enthusiasm for his scofflaw friend. At the beginning of Raffles: Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman, Bunny has recently been released from jail, and Raffles is presumed dead. Of course, we soon learn that they both have plenty more adventures ahead of them.

Hornung dedicated his first set of Raffles stories to his brother-in-law, and Doyle was suitably impressed, writing that “there are few finer examples of short-story writing in our language than these.” He did not however, approve Hornung’s choice of subject, however: “You must not make the criminal a hero.” Readers, however did not seem to mind: Raffles was the second most popular fictional character in the early twentieth century, second only to Sherlock Holmes.

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