When I first started reading the stories in The Amateur Cracksman, I was quite disappointed. Coming right off of the Sherlock Holmes stories set Raffles up for immediate failure in my eyes. At times I found it difficult to follow along with the action of the story and I often had to reread sections to make sure I was getting all the information. After reading a few stories, I began to get more comfortable with Raffles and Bunny and enjoyed the stories more.
I don’t see The Amateur Cracksman as a set of detective fiction stories, but if they weren’t, why would they be on the list for this class. Raffles and Bunny did detect some things in all of the stories, but I was so caught up in their scheming to steal things that I neglected the detective part. It’s weird because they’re fighting against bad guys, but they themselves could also be classified as bad guys because of their line of work.
It’s easy to see Raffles and Bunny as a Holmes/Watson parody. Holmes solves crimes;Raffles commits them. Bunny and Watson are just along for the ride to serve as the eyes and ears of the readers. There is an obvious connection between the four characters because of E.W. Hornung’s familial connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
All in all, I think Raffles is a very compelling character. He’s referred to as a “gentleman burglar,” which is a very interesting paradox. Yet, he’s very clever because he surrounds himself with the rich and well-to-do by day and robs them by night. Sneaky, sneaky.