I would love to see the movie version of this, which Crichton also wrote and directed. Sean Connery as Edward Pierce, the mastermind behind the robbery that threw Victorian England for a loop. He really was a smart guy. It’s obvious Crichton did his research about the period (apparently he became obsessed with the Victorian criminal underworld). The book is chock full of criminal slang. You catch the meaning eventually, and it certainly lends an atmosphere.
This was a bit hard to get into at first, but once I glommed onto the style, it was a really good time. I was expecting much more of a straight adventure story, and while this *is* a fictionalized account of the great train robbery of 1855 (I double checked!), it reads more in the style of non-fiction account than a novel. The focus is on the logistics, on the why and what and where of the happenings, rather than character. It’s also told in an impersonal third person narrative, much like a non-fiction book, never letting us into the character’s heads. This has the effect of making them seem more like subjects to be marveled at or entertained by, rather than empathetic characters. I’m sure this was done very much on purpose. There’s also a bit of a historical bent that I really enjoyed. It’s a Victorian story told from a modern perspective (well, modern at the time; 1975 is now forty-five years ago!)
The book is split into four sections: The planning of the robbery, the initial steps (getting the keys!), the actual robbery itself, and then the eventual trial. This is not a spoiler, as the narrative interjects periodically from page one, with quotes from the trial. So you know from the beginning that Pierce and his accomplices are going to be caught. Just a good old-fashioned heist story, well told and competently written. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
CBR Bingo: Money!
Still no BINGO.