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Gallows Thief | Bernard Cornwell
From there you can navigate to the title you are interested in. Interest-specific online venues will often provide a book buying opportunity. Click here for a list of interest-specific sites grouped by category. If you are located outside the U. The year is But instead of settling down to fame and glory, he finds himself penniless in a country where high unemployment and social unrest rage, and where men—innocent or guilty—are hanged for the merest of crimes. When he's offered a job as private investigator to re-open the case of a painter due to be hanged for a murder he didn't commit, Sandman readily accepts—as much for the money as for a chance to see justice done in a country gone to ruins.
Soon, however, he's mired in a grisly murder plot that keeps thickening. Sandman makes his way through gentlemen's clubs and shady taverns, aristocratic mansions, and fashionable painters' studios determined to rescue the innocent young man from the rope. But someone doesn't want the truth revealed. Thanks for signing up! We've emailed you instructions for claiming your free e-book.
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Specialty Booksellers Interest-specific online venues will often provide a book buying opportunity. International Customers If you are located outside the U. About Product Details The year is Recommended for you. Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell.
The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell. The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell. The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell. Berrigan is waiting for him.
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The Club has ordered Sandman killed, but Berrigan swears that he is the only one the Club sent, and has no idea who the sniper in the theatre was. Berrigan has decided to leave the Club and work with Sandman. He respects Sandman as a soldier, and also has been captivated by Sally. A theory has begun to form in Sandman's mind: one of the Seraphim Club killed the Countess.
The Club as a whole decided to buy him off, but Lord Robin, who was putting up most of the money, privately decided to have him killed. A letter comes from Eleanor, telling Sandman she has news. They meet in an ice cream parlor, and she tells him that her maid saw Meg taken away from the house in a coach belonging to the Seraphim Club. When Sandman mentions Skavadale, Eleanor excitedly tells him that Skavadale's family is close to bankruptcy, but, as the heir to a dukedom, he has managed to become engaged to the wealthiest heiress in England.
To both of them, it seems obvious: Skavadale was one of the Countess's many lovers, and he killed her when she attempted to blackmail him — in which case he has probably killed Meg. Eleanor tells Rider she is still in love with him. He says the same. He says he will ask Sir Henry for her hand once more, and if her mother objects, they will elope. Sandman and Berrigan return to Sir George Phillips's studio. Berrigan confirms that it is a Club tradition to commission a portrait of any woman that three or more members have slept with, and hang it in the Club's gallery as a trophy.
The coachman confirms that the coach has been driven to Skavadale's estate in the country. The trio quickly rides out of London. Skavadale's estate is a good day's journey away, which means they have just enough time to reach there, find Meg, and travel back to London in time to meet the Home Secretary on the morning of Corday's execution.
While camping, Berrigan mentions that a good number of people have developed a taste for Spanish cigars, which are exceptionally hard to come by in England. Sandman does, and could obtain financing from Sir Henry. They agree to be partners. At Skavadale's estate, they break in and find Meg, still alive.
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She is surly and uncooperative, and refuses to answer any questions. She has two strange characteristics: a fondness for raising chickens, and an overwhelming terror of wasps. Skavadale has offered her a comfortable position on his estate, raising a large brood of hens. The heroes force her to travel back to London. On the way, Meg still insists she knows nothing. She challenges Sandman to explain why Skavadale would leave her alive if he was the killer.
But after badgering, Meg admits that the Countess was still alive when she saw Corday out of the house; that is enough. On the morning of the execution, the heroes present Meg to Lord Sidmouth. She refuses to talk, and screams that she's been kidnapped. In the presence of the Home Secretary, the threat becomes frighteningly real to Meg.
She confesses, and Sandman is wrong: Lord Christopher is the killer. His own stepmother seduced him and then blackmailed him, with her eye on the earldom's vast fortune. He came to the house, begging her to return his love letters; she mocked him, and he lost control and stabbed her with his pocketknife. Meg discovered him, as did Skavadale when he arrived shortly thereafter.
He concealed Meg at his estate, preparing to blackmail Christopher once he inherited the earldom. It was also Christopher, not the Seraphim Club, who put out the bounty on Sandman's head. Lord Sidmouth, for all his sour complacency, acts quickly: he writes a hasty pardon while ordering horses and a police escort to speed Sandman to Newgate. He reminds them that, unfortunately, they have no proof to take action against Skavadale. Sandman rushes to the gallows while the execution unfolds in the same meticulous detail as in the prologue.
Alexander and Lord Christopher are sitting in the prize seats. Sandman arrives just as the trap doors are opened, and manages to save Corday, while his police escort seizes Lord Christopher. Sandman limps away, on his way to Sir Henry's house, to ask him for a loan and his daughter's hand.
Cornwell's book is another example of a particular branch of historical mystery that might be called the "proto-detective" genre: taking place in a historical time period predating the modern concept of the professional detective. The novel takes place in , while Great Britain did not establish its professional police force until , under one of Lord Sidmouth's successors as Home Secretary, Robert Peel. In his Historical Note, Cornwell says the primary inspiration for the story was V. A footnote in Gatrell's book mentions the fact that sometimes the British Home Office would appoint a temporary investigator to look into petitions for clemency.
Cornwell said he thought it would be interesting to write a detective novel with a "detective" who had no training or experience, nor was expected to. Sandman, an ex-soldier, is intelligent and self-reliant, but has no investigative background, and is frequently bewildered when thinking about his next step. His predecessor simply beat confessions out of suspects. His main assets are his integrity and his tenacity — once he sees enough to raise doubts about Corday's guilt, he is unwilling to stop until he finds out the truth.
The book is set during the existence of the so-called " Bloody Code ," a set of English criminal laws that contained over two hundred capital crimes. During the code's existence, crimes punishable by execution included not just murder but also rape, petty theft , forgery, and sodomy. The Code was abolished in , and public executions were abolished in Gatrell's book, writes Cornwell, combines scholarship with "a fine, controlled anger against capital punishment.
First, there is the opening scene in which an execution by hanging is rendered in graphic detail.