I'm the home base for Friday's "Forgotten" Books this week, while some lucky folks head off to Bouchercon, and Patti Abbott takes a much-needed break. But Patti will be back next week in time for Patricia Highsmith Day.
First off, a look at Ernest William Hornung (1866–1921) an English poet and author who also happened to be the brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle. He also worked as a journalist in England, France and Australia, and centered many of his stories around Aussie settings and culture. He's perhaps best known for his series featuring gentleman thief A. J. Raffles, who first appeared in a story in Cassell's Magazine in 1898.
Raffles may have been one of the earliest anti-heroes in crime fiction, spending his days playing cricket and his nights carrying out ingenious burglaries, aided by his sidekick Harry "Bunny" Manders, a man he once saved from suicide and disgrace. Raffles the "Amateur Cracksman" appears in several stories that divide into two periods, one before he was unmasked while plying his trade on board a cruise ship and presumably jumped overboard and drowned, and the other following his return where he and Manders continue their thieving ways in disguise.
The stories were collected into several volumes, including A Thief in the Night, published in 1905. They include "The Criminologists," about a society of crime experts who invite Raffles and Manders to discuss crime in sport, but have more nefarious purposes in mind, beliving him to be the notorious gentleman thief; "A Trap to Catch a Cracksman," in which Raffles attempts to rob American heavyweight boxing champion Barney Maguire, only to have it backfire on him; and "The Raffles Relics," where Ruffles--now in hiding--hears about an exhibit dedicated to his "work" at Scotland Yard's Black Room, and decides to steal back his trophies.
Raffles is a cynical character, whose philosophy is "we can't all be moralists, and the distribution of wealth is all wrong anyway." Still, he has his own code of honor, once stealing money from a miserly man to make a donation to their former school and volunteering for the Boer War, where he dies in battle after exposing an enemy spy. The stories in A Thief in the Night are actually told from Bunny's point of view, a la Watson and his accounts of Holmes, as Bunny reflects back on their adventures prior to the master thief's demise.
Several of Hornung's stories were later adapted for the theater, television and film, including protrayals by John Barrymore, David Niven, and as recently as 2001, a production starring Nigel Havers (Dangerfield, Coronation Street, Downton Abbey).
HERE ARE THIS WEEK'S LINKS:
- Sergio Angelini, Jigsaw by Ed McBain
- Frederic Taber Cooper via Steve Lewis, The Mystery of No. 47 by J. Storer Clouston
- Brian Busby, Flee from Terror (The Final Run) by Martin Brett (Douglas Sanderson)
- Bill Crider, The Kill by Douglas Heyes
- Scott A. Cupp, Creature from the Black Lagoon by Vargo Statten (John Russell Fearn)
- Martin Edwards, Death Comes to Cambers by E.R. Punshon
- Curt Evans, Give a Corpse a Bad Name by Elizabeth Ferrars
- Ray Garraty, Half of Paradise by James Lee Burke
- Ed Gorman, The Plastic Nightmare by Richard Neely
- Jerry House, The Collected Strange Papers of Christopher Blayre by Edward Heron Allen
- Randy Johnson, Pulp Fiction by Robert Turner
- Nick Jones, The Zebra-Striped Hearse by Ross Macdonald
- George Kelley, The Compleat Boucher by Anthony Boucher
- Rob Kitchin, All the Lonely People by Martin Edwards
- Evan Lewis, Hidden Blood by W.C. Tuttle
- Nik Morton, Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
- Steve Nester via The Rap Sheet, They Don’t Dance Much, by James Ross
- John O'Neil, The Drums of Fu Manchu, Part One by Sax Rohmer
- J.F. Norris, They Can't Hang Me by James Ronald
- James Reasoner, The Black Bulls by John Benteen (Ben Haas)
- Kelly Robinson, My First Book by Jerome K. Jerome, Arthur Conan Doyle, et al.
- Richard Robinson, The Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Donald Thomas
- Gerard Saylor, The Million Dollar Wound by Max Allan Collins
- Ron Scheer, Sierra by Richard Wheeler
- Kerrie Smith, Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill
- Patrick Ohl and Barry Ergang via Kevin Tipple, The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars by Anthony Boucher
- TomCat, Painted for the Kill by Lucy Cores
- Prashant Trikannad, The Mysterious Card and The Mysterious Card Unveiled by Cleveland Moffett
- James Winter, Hard Rainby Barry Eisler / Lawyers, Guns and Money by JD Rhoades