I’ve recently been reading Michael Crichton’s historical novel The Great Train Robbery [Random House, 1975].
“In teeming Victorian London, where lavish wealth and appalling poverty exist side by side, one mysterious man navigates both worlds with perfect ease. Rich, handsome and ingenious, Edward Pierce preys on the most prominent of the well-to-do as he cunningly orchestrates the crime of his century. Who would suspect that a gentleman of breeding could mastermind the daring theft of a fortune in gold? Who would 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 novel, set a decade before the age of dynamite – yet nonetheless explosive…”
Based on the real-life Great Gold Robbery of 1855, the novel is an exciting romp through Victorian England which I found to be thoroughly interesting, created vivid imagery and really captivated my imagination, especially on my train journeys into London and back each day.
I love history, am a transport geek, and (on occasion) I find London a charming place, so this book was always going to captivate and appeal to me. I always walk to my office from the station whilst still reading (it’s a talent!), so it became very easy to place myself into the environment created by the book
As it is, I am a huge fan of Crichton and would rate him as one of my favourite authors, though there are admittedly still a few of his books that I have yet to pick up – The Great Train Robbery being one of the last of them.
Admittedly I was a little put off by the idea of this being a historical fiction (though I loved his other historical work, Timeline), however Crichton writes to such a high standard that my concerns were unfounded. The novel made London come alive for me, and the pace of it is marvellous.
If you’re after your next book to read, I would heartily recommend The Great Train Robbery for your consideration!