The Raffles stories, written from the angle of the criminal, are much less anti-social than many modern stories written from the angle of the detective. The main impression that they leave behind is of boyishness. They belong to a time when people had standards, though they happened to be foolish standards. The line that they draw between good and evil is as senseless as a Polynesian taboo, but at least, like the taboo, it has the advantage that everyone accepts it. Enjoyable stories, well read, with great emphasis by David Rintoul. Just wish the other books in the series were available with his narration.
For there was no popular protest against No Orchids. In the end it was withdrawn, but only retrospectively, when a later work, Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief, brought Mr. Chase’s books to the attention of the authorities. Judging by casual conversations at the time, ordinary readers got a mild thrill out of the obscenities of No Orchids, but saw nothing undesirable in the book as a whole. Many people, incidentally, were under the impression that it was an American book reissued in England. Several other points need noticing before one can grasp the full implications of this book.
They were successful, they ‘made good’, therefore he admired them. At this date, the charm of Raffles is partly in the period atmosphere and partly in the technical excellence of the stories. Hornung was a very conscientious and on his level a very able writer. Anyone who cares for sheer efficiency must admire his work. Raffles is presented to us and this is rubbed home in countless scraps of dialogue and casual remarks — not as an honest man who has gone astray, but as a public-school man who has gone astray.
J. Raffles, with Michael Cochrane as his jeweller sidekick, Bunny. Together they embark upon a series of well-planned crimes against the highest of society.
It was Raffles, far more than Holmes, who spoke in a clipped, aristocratic tone. And, far more than Holmes, Raffles was anti-establishment and anti-authority. Whereas Holmes was often in the employ of the great and the good, Raffles robbed such people. Holmes was forever exclaiming that the game was afoot, but Raffles was the far greater lover of sport.
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What separates Raffles from Holmes is that he’s more recognizably human and fallible – he doesn’t always lift the loot, and bad luck throws him a few curve balls. Hornung was not as well-known as his brother-in-law, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, yet in many ways, Hornung was a better writer and Raffles a cleverer star then even Sherlock himself. For Raffles operates on the wrong side of the law, yet remains a magnetic and sympathetic personality. In the quiet Cotswolds village of Great Rollright in 1944, a thin and unusually elegant housewife emerged from her cottage to go on her usual bike ride. A devoted mother of three, attentive wife and friendly neighbour, Sonya Burton seemed to epitomise rural British domesticity. However, rather than pedalling towards the shops with her ration book, Sonya was heading for the Oxfordshire countryside to gather scientific secrets from a nuclear physicist.