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The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, the Real Moriarty [Kindle Edition]

Ben Macintyre
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

The rumbustious true story of the Victorian master thief who was the model for Conan Doyle’s Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ arch-rival. From the bestselling author of ‘Operation Mincemeat’ and ‘Agent Zigzag’.

Adam Worth was the greatest master criminal of Victorian times. Abjuring violence, setting himself up as a perfectly respectable gentleman, he became the ringleader for the largest criminal network in the world and the model for Conan Doyle’s evil genius, Moriarty.

At the height of his powers, he stole Gainsborough’s famous portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, then the world’s most valuable painting, from its London showroom. The duchess became his constant companion, the symbol and substance of his achievements. At the end of his career, he returned the painting, having gained nothing material from its theft.

Worth’s Sherlock Holmes was William Pinkerton, founder of America’s first and greatest detective agency. Their parallel lives form the basis for this extraordinary book, which opens a window on the seedy Victorian underworld, wittily exposing society’s hypocrisy and double standards in a storytelling tour de force.

Note that it has not been possible to include the same picture content that appeared in the original print version.


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Review

‘A good deal more thrilling than most thrillers’
Ruth Rendell, Daily Telegraph

‘A most remarkable and entertaining biography. It is a highly charged thriller, a moving love affair, a dramatic history of the Victorian criminal underworld, a noble tragedy’
Alexander Waugh, Independent on Sunday

‘A well-researched and lively account…Macintyre has an appetite for fact, assiduity and wit’ Asa Briggs, The Times

‘This is a delicious mingling of through research, lyrical storytelling and empathetic crime reporting…a stylish, original, and picturesque story that reads better than the vast bulk of crime books currently in print’ Michael Coren, Literary Review

From the Back Cover

''He is the Napoleon of Crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker…''

Adam Worth was the greatest master-criminal of Victorian times. Abjuring violence and gathering the trappings of respectability, he became the ringleader of the largest criminal network in the world and the model for Conan Doyle's evil genius, Professor Moriarty.

Starting out as a professional deserter during the American Civil War, Adam Worth soon made a name for himself in the notorious Bowery district of Manhattan. Embarking on a campaign of bank robbery, forgery and fraud, he moved among the upper classes, emulated them, and robbed them blind. His most audacious coup – the theft of the world's most valuable painting.

'The Napoleon of Crime' is a true account of the Victorian underworld that rivals the most imaginative fiction.

"A well-researched and lively account…Macintyre has an appetite for fact, assiduity, and wit.'
ASA BRIGGS, 'The Times'

"This is a delicious mingling of thorough research, lyrical storytelling and empathetic crime reporting…a stylish, original and picturesque story that reads better that the vast bulk of crime books currently in print."
MICHAEL COREN, 'Literary Review'

"A most remarkable and entertaining biography. It is a highly charged thriller, a moving love affair, a dramatic history of the Victorian criminal underworld, a noble tragedy."
ALEXANDER WAUGH, 'Independent on Sunday'


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 686 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006K155VM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #72,495 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Ben Macintyre is a columnist and Associate Editor on The Times. He has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He is the author of seven previous books including Agent Zigzag, the story of wartime double-agent Eddie Chapman, which was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Galaxy British Book Award for Biography of the Year 2008. Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II, published in January 2010, is the thrilling true story of the greatest and most successful wartime deception ever attempted. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

(Photo credit: Jerry Bauer)


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and flawed at the same time ... 8 May 2010
Format:Paperback
If I am anything to go by, Ben MacIntyre's publishers are on to a good thing in releasing a paperback of this book on the back of the terrific Operation Mincemeat; the first thing I did after finishing that book was to dig out this one, which has been languishing on my reading list for rather too long (in fact since 1997 - how did that happen?!).
And make no mistake about it, those who do read this have a treat in store.
The story is simply fantastic - the story of the man who inspired Conan Doyle to create Moriarty, and who was one of the pioneers of the inventive heist (eg the one in the Red Headed League"); the story of the gentleman crook with a strong moral code and a heart (relatively speaking) of gold; and the story of the two women he loved - the merry Irish Kitty who was his mistress but abandoned him to become a New York society millionairess, and the portrait of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, which bore a more than passing resemblence to the lovely Kitty, and who (which?) the great thief stole and kept until his death was in sight.
A friend felt the book was a little "thin". I think I disagree, but I slightly see where he is coming from. It is certainly not short of incident or interest; the story rackets along like a funfair ride, at a great pace, full of events and excitement, and wonderful characters. But one would certainly like to know more about many of the incidents and characters, and the charge of "thin-ness" may have force there. Of course there have to be limits, and too much about the "gang" would unbalance the book; but I did feel that there was a bigger, even better book which could have been written.
My other "niggles" are more about the core of the book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 5 Jun. 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Brilliant book. I bought on the back of having read Agent Zig Zag & then Operation Mincemeat.

It rattles along at a fair pace, diverts off into some very interesting areas (& then back to the main topic).

If you are looking for an intelligent holiday read (I had problems in putting it down, which causes problems when you have work to go to in the morning)highly reccomended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been fascinating! 18 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I like the author, but in this instance he wasn't able to really give any great insights into this Master criminal. It may be that because Adam Worth kept his own counsel that he was so successful, but it meant that the information about him mostly came from the FBI files. As a result they only knew about his failures or partial failures as a criminal, and the reader is left with far more questions than answers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Read 29 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book.

I had previously read 'Agent Zig Zag' by the same author, and found it well-researched and entertaining, and my experience was similar with this book.

The author is able to turn other sources, some of them no doubt quite detailed and dull, into a really fascinating account. In addition, he adds depth and colour, whilst being careful to clearly identify events where there are conflicting views and opinions. He deftly avoids only trusting the accounts that will give the best 'story', and feels worthy of trust as a result, whilst providing an entertaining read which is never dry.

An entertaining and enlightening read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Napoleons of Crime 13 Mar. 2012
Format:Hardcover
An amazing book which would be difficult to believe if it were not a true story.Adam Worth was a man of high intelligence,who used his abilities to further his life in crime. Living in a time of "PC plods",made his chosen career much easier.
Surely I see a film coming!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating social history 16 July 2015
By Anne TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am not at all fond of books where the author seems to admire criminal activity and try to make a hero out of the criminal and I am very pleased that this was avoided in this very readable biography of Adam Worth. Worth was a gang leader and bank robber in teh late nineteenth century. He was American and started his career by defrauding the military in the American Civil War. He moved from America to Europe where he became very rich and lived the high life with great enjoyment only to end his "career" in penury. The author doesn't glorify Worth or his exploits and he tells his tale and that of many of his associates showing both the high and the low points.

Worth is not an admirable character, although we can see that he might have been much worse but it is difficult to understand at times why he rose to the top of his "trade". The author describes his exploits but fails to help us understand what exactly it was that Worth did that made him more successful in crime than his compatriots - other than think big. We maybe needed more details of how he planned his crimes and carried them out. The same applies to the Pinkerton men who pursued and tracked him down - how exactly did they do this and why couldn't others do the same ? More detail would have enhanced the book but I still thought that the narrative was clear and informative and written in such a way that it kept me hooked.

Worth's most publicised crime was the theft of the portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire which he stole and then kept hold of for many years. He appeared to have an attraction for the painting which is difficult to grasp.
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