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53 Reviews
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff - Read it !
Bernard Cornwell, best known for the Sharpe series, also author of the Starbuck and Warlord Chronicles has extended his repertoire to the historical whodunnit.
He applies his considerable skill weaving historical detail and swashbuckling adventure with political expediency and an observation on the culture of privilege.
The main character, Captain Rider...
Published on 15 Oct 2001 by mike@iaa.co.uk

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not great
I think I must have read almost every book written by Bernard Cornwell. This is not one of his best. The story is interesting and in places well written, but there's an unwelcome preachy tone about the whole thing and it's full of odd plot-lines that peter out without really going anywhere. The book gave the impression of being sketched out quickly then written off the...
Published on 7 Sep 2011 by SJJones


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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff - Read it !, 15 Oct 2001
This review is from: Gallows Thief (Hardcover)
Bernard Cornwell, best known for the Sharpe series, also author of the Starbuck and Warlord Chronicles has extended his repertoire to the historical whodunnit.
He applies his considerable skill weaving historical detail and swashbuckling adventure with political expediency and an observation on the culture of privilege.
The main character, Captain Rider Sandman,is a hero of Waterloo, a cricketing legend in the making, an impoverished gentleman through the sins of his father, but above all an honest man.
Sandman boarding in cheap accommodation, a "flash" house, living amongst the criminal fraternity of the day, accepts a "temporary" assignment as an investigator for the home office which has been pressurised by the Royal Family into the necessity of confirming the guilt of a convicted murderer.
He has just seven days to establish that the Countess of Avebury was indeed stabbed to death by the fledgling artist she was sitting for.
What follows is the work of a master, a riveting yarn packed with detail and twisting subplots, solid characterisation and an increasing realisation that time is running out for the man intended for the noose.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of rough justice and the abuse of human rights, 14 Nov 2003
By 
Sally-Anne "mynameissally" (Leicestershire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gallows Thief (Hardcover)
The title, "Gallows Thief" refers to a person who robs the gallows of victims to hang, not to a thief who gets hanged. The hero, Captain Sandman, an ex-soldier, (poor and desperate for work) has been offered a job that he isn't qualified for but he can't refuse because he needs the money. The King's wife has made waves regarding a convicted murderer who is soon to be hanged. It's all very inconvenient for the home office so they need someone to investigate and (most importantly) to confirm the felon's guilt. It's not about justice; it's about order. Sandman doesn't see it that way. He's shocked at the casual way people are convicted and sentenced to hang on the basis of very little, if any, evidence. He doesn't like the man whose guilt he is employed to confirm but he becomes convinced that the man is innocent, so he sets out to prove that the conviction was unsafe. He has one week to achieve his goal, before the sentence is carried out. There are forces working to undermine his efforts but he manages to get a very small but effective team to help him. He's a determined man but the odds seem to be stacked against him.
Bernard Cornwell goes to a lot of trouble to get his historical details correct and he has a nice, easy to read, writing style. The result is, that he writes good books and once a person has read one of his books, it is likely they will want to read others. This is the 4th of his books that I've read. I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed the other 3 more. The story was good and the historical details seemed convincing, as you would expect. However, it seemed a little bit too dependent on coincidences and the final outcome teetered on one person's phobia that seemed far too convenient. Having said that, this book proved one thing to me. It is often said (usually in a complaining tone) that you can't enjoy a book if you aren't able to like the characters. I didn't like any of the characters in this book (except for one right at the end - a man sentenced to hang for stealing one small item) but then they probably wouldn't have seemed nice to people like us, living in this age in an affluent, liberal society. Life was hard then and a hard life makes hard people. If one of the soft people living in our society today were to be transported back to the early 19th century for a couple of days, they might well need to be in weekly therapy for a couple of years to get over the horror of it all. Cornwell has captured that squalor and harshness. Dickens would probably have been impressed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Listening, 19 Mar 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Gallows Thief (Audio CD)
Gallows Thief is one of Bernard Cornwell's earlier novels published in 2001 and is proof of the fact the author can weave an excellent plot on just about any subject you care to mention. Although he is probably most famous for his `Sharpe' novels the author has made sure he does not become a `one trick pony' by writing on such diverse subjects as King Arthur, Saxon stories and Stonehenge, no mean feat.

This novel is set in the Regency period in Britain. It is at a time when the wars with France are over. The returning soldiers are coming back to a life of unemployment and poverty and people in high places are only too well aware that serious problems could ensue if so many trained fighting men are left to their own devices.

The only solution is to have stringent punishments for virtually any wrong doing and many men and women take the short walk to the gallows. This only makes for a more seething undercurrent of hatred against the Government.

Rider Sandman is a hero of Waterloo, but he has not received a heroes welcome and he is struggling to repay his families debts, when he becomes embroiled in the case of a man who is waiting to be hanged in Newgate prison. He is made the investigator of the case by the Home Secretary and soon find himself in a web of plots and conspiracies that will test his powers of deduction, but a man's life is at stake . . .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous historical integrity, 22 July 2006
By 
op "Olfreda" (Buckinghamshire UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gallows Thief (Paperback)
To discuss capital punishment in this way is surely a daunting challenge. So much historical fiction on this and other contentious subjects lapses into 21st-century opinions superimposed on a historical backdrop. Cornwell's characters discuss hanging, and rough justice, from all points of view, and his gallows scenes are horrifyingly graphic. But the discussion, the action, and the characters are of their time and remain utterly convincing. I cannot tell you how much I admire this book. A superb achievement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read all about it! The Hero is a cricketer., 17 Nov 2002
By 
David Ashton (Preston, Lancashire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gallows Thief (Hardcover)
At last a book with a true hero. A war veteran, a sporting legend, a man with the highest principles and chivalrous as well. Captain Rider Sandman, a fantastic name. It makes you stop reading the book and say it out loud...."Rider Sandman"...why can't I have a name like that?
I found the descriptions of the gallows and the accompanying processes absolutely fascinating. Did they really treat human beings like that? Well worse actually, they sent them to Australia as well.
Our hero is remorseless in his quest for the truth, and he gathers a merry band of followers, reminding me of Robin Hood in a way. He gets there in the nick of time, unnecessarily close.
Like all good stories it ends with undying love being offered, and accepted. Our hero disappears into the sunset with his best girl by his side to Gretna Green and wedlock.
The only outstanding issue, and the question that is bothering us all, is '.......after they are married, will she stop him playing cricket?'.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compulsive read, detail and action packed. - Read it !, 10 Oct 2001
This review is from: Gallows Thief (Hardcover)
Bernard Cornwell, best known for the Sharpe series, also author of the Starbuck and Warlord Chronicles has extended his repertoire to the historical whodunnit.
He applies his considerable skill weaving historical detail and swashbuckling adventure with political expediency and an observation on the culture of privilege.
The main character, Captain Rider Sandman, is a hero of Waterloo, a cricketing legend in the making, an impoverished gentleman through the sins of his father, but above all an honest man.
Sandman, boarding in cheap accommodation, a "flash" house, living amongst the criminal fraternity of the day, accepts a "temporary assignment" as an investigator for the home office which has been pressurised by the Royal Family into the necessity of confirming the guilt of a convicted murderer.
He has just seven days to establish that the Countess of Avebury was indeed stabbed to death by the fledgling artist she was sitting for.
What follows is the work of a master storyteller, a riveting yarn packed with detail and twisting subplots, solid characterisation and an increasing realisation that time is running out for the man intended for the noose.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another very enjoyable and informative read, 26 Nov 2001
By 
J. S. Stocking "John Stocking" (Norfolk England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gallows Thief (Hardcover)
Having read all of Bernard Cornwell's works to date I very much enjoyed this latest. 'A Gallows Thief' takes one into a world which is seldom written of in such detail and obvious accurate research. As such it is a fascinating insight into the language and habits of London's criminal fraternity of the time. The word derivations and and slang are a joy and the descriptions of Newgate and the hanging process, although macabre, are masterful and essential to the story.
My wife never shared my enthusiasm for Sharpe but is currently enjoying this latest departure by Bernard Cornwell into a less military theme.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Post Napoleonic wars detective fiction., 26 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Gallows Thief (Hardcover)
Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
Gallows Thief is a standalone novel, though it could easily have lent itself to sequels. It takes place two years after Waterloo, in London. Rider Sandman is a former soldier, a cricket player, and, thanks to his father's money trouble, broke. He's commissioned to erase all doubts about a man, scheduled for execution in a week, being the true murderer. Instead, he unearths the real killer.

Overall, I enjoyed this murder mystery . It was a solid, plausible story, with no glaring anachronisms to distract the reader. As with all his works Bernard Cornwell's research into the epoch and daily life is meticulous.

If I have a quibble it is with the pacing of the narrative, I found it a tad slow at times, only towards the end did the pace really pick up, hence the four stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gallows Thief, 29 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Gallows Thief (Paperback)
This is a terrific read, set in London, at Tyeburn Gallows, now called Marble Arch.
If you like historical novels, then this one will certainly appeal to you.
I enjoyed it very much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gallows thief, 29 Dec 2013
By 
rik (retford united kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gallows Thief (Paperback)
a great novel bought for a christmas gift and was well recieved by my daughter and much apreciated so very happy with it
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Gallows Thief
Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell (Hardcover - 1 Oct 2001)
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