Bernard Cornwell writes a great historical novel-this one focused on an effort to solve a murder and save a young man from hanging. Harrowing descriptions of the judicial system and captitol punishment as a "spectator's event" are only part of a well written tale that has an intrguing set of characters and a romance sub-plot
A fantastic historical mystery with one of the best protagonists I've ever read: a fully developed character who, though flawed, is basically a decent man in a cruel era. Unfortunately, despite pleas from his fans, Cornwell has not chosen to make this into a series.
A great historial novel with and interesting tale.
This is likely my favorite book that I've read by Bernard Cornwell.
Although he always writes well-researched historical novels, many of
then are just a little bit too masculine and military-focused for my
taste. With this historical mystery set in 19th century London, he
achieves a more balanced milieu.
Rider Sandman returns to London a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo
expecting the respect given a military hero. However, he finds that in
his absence, his father gambled the family fortune away, and then
committed suicide, leaving him penniless and with an indelible stain
upon his reputation. To make things worse, his mother and sister
expect him to keep them in their accustomed idle and luxurious
lifestyle - they can't even imagine the shame of becoming working
On top of all this, Sandman's planned wedding seems to definitely be off.
Sandman's only source of income is now to play cricket matches -
something he's luckily good at. But is certainly not enough money to
sustain him, and so when Lord Sidmouth recommends him for a job, he's
quick to take it. It seems an easy commission - a portrait painter is
accused of raping and murdering a wealthy lady as she sat for her
portrait. It's sure that he's guilty, but an investigation needs to be
done - purely as a formality - before the man can be hanged.
Unfortunately, when Rider embarks upon his investigation, he quickly
becomes certain that the portrait painter is innocent. For one thing,
he's gay, so it seems very unlikely he would have murdered a woman in
a crime of passion, as it is being alleged. For another thing, the
maid who would have been able to confirm the painter's alibi has
Against Lord Sidmouth's wishes, the upright and honest Sandman
involves himself in a race against time to discover the truth before
the young painter is hanged...
Lots of dramatic tension and unexpected plot twists keep the book
exciting, as Cornwell takes the reader on a tour of the gritty,
realistic underside of London's criminal justice system.
Well, I can't really add to the long review posted here. However, I am glad that I didn't read it before I read the book as it gives away some plot developments.
What I would like to say is that this is an enjoyable book that fits in with a series I am reading about an officer in the British Army who also fought at Waterloo but continues in the Army.
If you would like to read some of Bernard Cornwell's books without committing yourself to a long series, definitely read Gallows Thief, as it is a stand alone novel that is not part of a series (although I wish it were).
An enjoyable read - an interesting story about 1800s in London. This was the first by this author that I've read. I think I will try some of his others.
An historical mystery, set in 1820 in England. Very interesting and very well written.
Got a superb review. Weaves the ambience and issues of the day (this time Regency England) with a gripping plot and a memorable character.
I heard this book on tape and it was excellent. Made the miles fly by!
I loved this book and with Cornwell would come out with another featuring the main protagonist, Rider Sandman. He's a great hero, and the characterization of him and the others is as excellent as the plot. The setting is intriquing as well. (Note: I am NOT the person offering this book, so I'm not biased .. I really loved the book. In fact, I even wrote to the author, something I almost never do!).
Bernard Cornwell is a master of historical adventure fiction. This is a departure from his sagas of war, but is such an engaging adventure/mystery set in early 19th century England (just after the Battle of Waterloo) that it is hard to put down! His historical research and character development are stellar as always.
Historical adventure novel.
Really good book. I love Bernard Cornwell books as he really makes history come alive for me.
Different, early England historical fiction