The Amateur Cracksman
|Author||E. W. Hornung|
|Series||A. J. Raffles|
|Followed by||The Black Mask|
The Amateur Cracksman was the original short story collection by E. W. Hornung featuring his most famous character, A. J. Raffles, a gentleman thief in late Victorian Great Britain. It was first published in 1899. The book was very well received and spawned three follow-ups: two more short story collections, The Black Mask (1901) and A Thief in the Night (1904), as well as a full-length novel, Mr. Justice Raffles in 1909.
Arthur Raffles is a prominent member of London society, and a national sporting hero. As a cricketer he regularly represents England in Test matches. He uses this as a chance to commit a number of burglaries, primarily stealing valuable jewelry from his hosts. In this he is assisted by his friend, the younger, idealistic Bunny Manders. Both men are constantly under the surveillance of Inspector Mackenzie of Scotland Yard who is always thwarted in his attempts to pin the crimes on Raffles.
In the final story, "The Gift of the Emperor", Raffles is called into service on behalf of the Foreign Office who wish to recover a valuable pearl from a German diplomat staying in England. However, this is only in the TV adaptation; in the book he is working entirely for his own profit.
- "The Ides of March" – Raffles initiates Bunny into his profession by taking him along as an accomplice.
- "A Costume Piece" – Raffles schemes to steal diamonds from the millionaire Reuben Rosenthall.
- "Gentlemen and Players" – While in the countryside to play a cricket match, Raffles and Bunny are surprised to discover Inspector Mackenzie of Scotland Yard there attempting thwart an expected burglary.
- "Le Premier Pas" – Raffles recounts his first felony committed in Australia.
- "Wilful Murder" – On becoming aware that a dealer has discovered his real identity, Raffles proceeds to his house with the intention of murdering him.
- "Nine Points of the Law" – Raffles and Bunny are tasked by a lawyer to extricate a rare picture bound for Australia.
- "The Return Match" – Raffles expects a visit from a convict who escaped from jail.
- "The Gift of the Emperor – Raffles and Bunny board a vessel carrying a famous pearl as a diplomatic gift.