Adventure book

A Thief in the Night: A Book of Raffles’ Adventures

A Thief in the Night: A Book of Raffles' Adventures

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“A Thief in the Night: A Book of Raffles’ Adventures”

is a collection of short stories written by E.W. Hornung, featuring the character of A.J. Raffles, a gentleman thief. The book was first published in 1899, and it quickly became popular among readers, who were intrigued by the adventures of the charismatic and daring Raffles.

The stories in the book follow Raffles and his sidekick, Bunny Manders, as they carry out a series of audacious heists in London and abroad. Raffles is depicted as a brilliant and resourceful thief, who uses his intelligence, charm, and athleticism to outwit his opponents and evade the law. Bunny, on the other hand, is a more reluctant accomplice, who is often dragged into Raffles’ schemes but remains fiercely loyal to his friend.

One of the most appealing aspects of the book is its portrayal of Raffles as a complex and multifaceted character. On the one hand, he is a criminal, who breaks the law and steals from the wealthy and powerful. On the other hand, he is a gentleman, who adheres to a strict code of honor and conducts his thefts with a certain degree of chivalry. He also displays a dry wit and a fondness for adventure, which make him a compelling and likable protagonist.

Another strength of the book is its vivid depiction of turn-of-the-century London and the world of high society. Hornung, who was the brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle, uses his knowledge of the city and its upper classes to create a realistic and atmospheric backdrop for Raffles’ exploits. The stories are full of richly drawn characters, luxurious settings, and intricate plot twists, which keep the reader engaged and entertained.

Despite its focus on crime and criminality, “A Thief in the Night” is also a morality tale of sorts. Hornung portrays Raffles as a kind of anti-hero, who is ultimately doomed by his own hubris and lack of moral compass. The book raises questions about the nature of crime, justice, and punishment, and invites the reader to consider the ethics of theft and deception.

The book’s popularity led to the creation of several sequels, including “The Black Mask” and “The Amateur Cracksman,” as well as adaptations for stage, film, and television. Raffles became a cultural icon, inspiring a whole genre of stories and characters, from Arsène Lupin to the Saint.

In conclusion, “A Thief in the Night” is a classic of detective and adventure fiction, which continues to captivate readers with its blend of suspense, humor, and intrigue. Hornung’s skillful storytelling, memorable characters, and evocative settings make it a must-read for anyone interested in the history of crime fiction and the development of the anti-hero. Whether one sympathizes with Raffles or condemns him, the book remains a compelling and entertaining read, which reminds us of the enduring appeal of the criminal underworld.

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