In teeming Victorian London, where lavish wealth and appalling poverty live side by side, Edward Pierce charms the most prominent of the well-to-do as he cunningly orchestrates the crime of the century. Who would suspect that a gentleman of breeding could mastermind the daring theft of a fortune in gold? Who could predict the consequences of making the extraordinary robbery aboard the pride of England's industrial era, the mighty steam locomotive? Based on fact, as lively as legend, and studded with all the suspense and style of a modern fiction master, here is a classic caper novel set a decade before the age of dynamite - yet nonetheless explosive....
Michael Crichton wrote and directed the screen adaptation of The Great Train Robbery, starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland.
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Outstanding Story and Performance
I would recommend this to everyone. This is the most perfect combination of story and performance I have ever heard, and I have heard a lot of good books. Michael Kitchen sets the perfect tone for Crichton's narrative. The writing is a history of Victorian England in itself and the story rushes along to a very satisfying conclusion
The plot moves from episode to episode with a great flow and engaging dialog. There is a great education in the slang of Victorian criminals that is in itself worth the reading. Find out how Scotland Yard got its name and what the nicknames for police are at that time. Authentic insight into the mores of Victorian England.
Michael Kitchen is the perfect choice for this story. His pace and accents bring Victorian England alive for the reader. This would not be the same without his perfect performance. His tone, pace and elocution are just right. When the occasion calls for it you can almost hear him insert his tongue into his cheek.
The narrative of the ploy used to enter the railroad office is particularly engaging, but so were many of the other schemes to leverage Victorian customs to the advantage of the thieves. Many of these will make you laugh out loud
Listen to this book. It was great fun from beginning to end.
- David E. Hurley
An unusual but rewarding listen
Michael Kitchen is not a typical sort of narrator, but he ends up being absolutely perfect for Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery, which is not a typical sort of novel. If you're familiar with Kitchen from FOYLE'S WAR, then just imagine Christopher Foyle reading an audiobook and you have some idea what to expect. Kitchen uses the same cadence and delivery that he does in that character, offering unusually breathy, matter-of-fact, brisk narration. It doesn't sound like someone narrating an adventure; it sounds like someone recounting events. And... that perfectly matches Crichton's writing style.
The Great Train Robbery is a novel, and some of the events are fictionalized, but it is based on true events. Crichton uses the same quasi-non-fiction style that he uses for his other historical novels like Eaters of the Dead or Pirate Latitudes. There are so many accurate period details and references to other events happening at the time or even events happening later that you think you're reading non-fiction... but then the events seem just a little too thrilling to be completely true. The novel is as much about early Victorian society as it is about the titular robbery, and it's largely a condemnation of that society. A story about the criminal element proves the perfect vessel for such condemnation, and Michael Kitchen proves the perfect narrator. He sounds like a professor - granted, a really interesting professor, probably the best you ever had - delivering a particularly good lecture. And that really does add to the reading experience!
The downside to Crichton's historical style is that you never really get into the characters' heads, since the tale is delivered as if by a researcher who would have no way of knowing their inner throughts. But then, rich characterizations were never what Crichton was best at anyway. What he's best at is making details - be they about genetics or viruses or Victorian London - fascinating and exciting. And that's certainly the case here.
Kitchen's unique style takes some getting used to, and despite being a fan of his, I wasn't sure I was going to like it at first. But stick with it, because you suddenly realize it's PERFECT for this material, and adds a lot!