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No Hero   By: (1866-1921)

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No Hero by Ernest William Hornung is a gripping crime novel that explores the dual nature of the human psyche. Set in the late 19th century, the story follows the protagonist, an ex-convict named A. J. Raffles, who becomes a master thief by night and a charismatic gentleman by day.

What sets this novel apart is its deep exploration of Raffles' complex morality. Despite being portrayed as a criminal, Raffles possesses a strong sense of honor and loyalty towards his friends. The author skillfully showcases this conflicting duality, allowing readers to sympathize with a character who exists outside the realm of traditional heroes.

Hornung's writing style is exemplary, captivating readers from the very beginning with vivid descriptions and an engaging narrative. The author's attention to detail creates a rich atmosphere, immersing readers in the thrilling world of London's underground crime scene. The pacing is perfectly balanced, alternating between intense action sequences and moments of introspection.

Furthermore, the secondary characters in No Hero are equally well-developed and play significant roles in Raffles' journey. Bunny Manders, Raffles' loyal accomplice, provides an interesting contrast to his partner's morally ambiguous choices. The dynamic between the two is at times humorous, at times poignant, showcasing the depth of their friendship.

The novel also cleverly touches upon the socio-political backdrop of the time, shedding light on the disparities between the upper and lower classes. The themes of wealth, privilege, and societal expectations are subtly woven into the storyline, adding an additional layer of complexity to the narrative.

Nevertheless, some readers may find the plot predictable at points, as Raffles often seems to come out unscathed from precarious situations. However, this does not diminish the overall enjoyment of the story, as the focus lies more on the understanding of Raffles' character, rather than on shocking twists and turns.

In conclusion, No Hero is a thought-provoking and captivating crime novel that delves deep into the complexities of morality and human nature. Hornung's skilled writing, well-developed characters, and atmospheric setting make for an engaging read. Whether you are a fan of crime fiction or simply enjoy exploring the psychology of complex characters, this book is a worthwhile addition to your reading list.

First Page:

No Hero

By E.W. Hornung




I. A Plenipotentiary

II. The Theatre of War

III. First Blood

IV. A Little Knowledge

V. A Marked Woman

VI. Out of Action

VII. Second Fiddle

VIII. Prayers and Parables

IX. Sub Judice

X. The Last Word

XI. The Lion's Mouth

XII. A Stern Chase

XIII. Number Three

No Hero



Has no writer ever dealt with the dramatic aspect of the unopened envelope? I cannot recall such a passage in any of my authors, and yet to my mind there is much matter for philosophy in what is always the expressionless shell of a boundless possibility. Your friend may run after you in the street, and you know at a glance whether his news is to be good, bad, or indifferent; but in his handwriting on the breakfast table there is never a hint as to the nature of his communication. Whether he has sustained a loss or an addition to his family, whether he wants you to dine with him at the club or to lend him ten pounds, his handwriting at least will be the same, unless, indeed, he be offended, when he will generally indite your name with a studious precision and a distant grace quite foreign to his ordinary caligraphy.

These reflections, trite enough as I know, are nevertheless inevitable if one is to begin one's unheroic story in the modern manner, at the latest possible point... Continue reading book >>

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