Gallows Thief Author:Bernard Cornwell It is 1817 and Charles Corday, a portrait painter, has only seven days to live. He has been found guilty of murdering a Countess whom he was in the process of painting. He had been sentenced to hang, and political pressures make it expedient for the Home Office to confirm his guilt. The man appointed to investigate is Rider Sandman, whose qualif... more »ications for the job are non-existent and who is currently down on his luck. But Sandman's investigations reveal much that does not fit the verdict, and too many people determined to halt his activities.
In the cobbled streets outside Newgate Prison, the common and desperate of London gather regularly to enjoy the spectacle of human necks broken at the end of a hangman's rope..For Rider Sandman, newly returned from the Napoleonic Wars, it is not grim entertainment that draws him here, but a mission to prove the guilt or innocence of a condemned prisoner -- a duty that leads Sandman from the hellish bowels of Newgate to the scented drawing rooms of the ruthless and powerful, and into the darkest shadows of the filthy, bustling city, in search of the truth.« less
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.
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.