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.
©1975 Michael Crichton; Copyright renewed 2003 by CrichtonSun LLC (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved
Within The Great Train Robbery there lies a brilliant, engaging story about what must be one of history's greatest heists. However this story is at times relegated to the background and we are instead given a history lesson on Victorian culture. Because of this, the book doesn't know whether it wants to be a novel or a history reference, and the story suffers.
When the story does come to the fore, it is a very fun listen. Details of the setup of the heist and the heist itself are engaging and almost too fantastic to believe. The narration is ok. I agree with some other reviewers that the narrator speaks haltingly at times, but once you grow accustomed to his pace, it doesn't detract from the experience.
"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.
"Great Book with lots of fun Victorian Trivia"
I opted for this book because it was read by Michael Kitchen. I had previously listened to a Robert Goddard book read by Mr. Kitchen (no longer available) and loved his style. This book was a perfect fit for his narration style. I do understand why some might not be drawn to him as a narrator. But, I love his voice, tambour etc. and the clipped nature of his delivery.
The story itself is superb. What a great writer Mr. Crichton was! I am not a huge science fiction fan and I wished while listening that he had written more novels like this one.
The characters are all perfectly drawn and you definitely find yourself cheering on the robbers.
I don't want to give anything away. I did find that his little detours into history were fascinating and the explanation of Victorian street slang was very fun. I listened straight through. Could not stop. Highly recommend.
"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!
Others have mentioned the bizarre timing of the narrator, it's as bad as they all say. It doesn't ruin the story, but it's definitely distracting.
Michael Kitchen's reading style is just perfect for this book!
The book itself is both entertaining and very informative. (I've learnt a lot about the Victorian underclass.)
In fact I'm sad I've finished it, but I love Michael Kitchen's voice so much, I will start again from the beginning just to hear him speak!
Love the historical vocabulary and other references. This is a real treasure. Kitchen has a great performance
Good story made better by an excellent performance. Not the best Michael Crichton book, however, worth a read.
"Fascinating tale-don't believe everything you hear"
This is a fascinating tale but I was disappointed to learn that it is far from the true story of the Great Train Robbery of 1855. That being said I enjoyed every minute of it and Michael Kitchen is an excellent narrator.
"Horrible narration! Virtually ruined the listen!"
This audiobook has among the worst narration I have heard, and I've listened to almost 250 audiobooks since joining Audible.com. It's pacing is incredibly uneven, sometimes with strange pauses between pieces of a sentence, or even between words, but other times proceeding at a normal pace. If it were too slow, I could run it at a faster speed, but the unevenness removes that possibility of improving things.
"But in the mid century this practice was coming under attack. The dislocation of poor people.....(pause)......whose dwellings were demolished to make way for the incoming lines was one argument" or maybe "The mid-century halt left several of the new lines at a disadvantage....(pause)....and one of these was the southeastern railway, which ran from London...(pause)...to the coastal town of Folkestone, some 18 miles away"
Occasionally, it sounded like each new word was being revealed to him as he read it, so there is unusual pronunciation and pauses rather than a fluid sentence. Very odd.....I don't know if it was ignored by the editors, or if this is somehow created in post production editing, but either way it is very, very distracting. I'm finding the history of England and the railways so far to be interesting, but the narration might be the end of it for me. I'll give it another hour of listening before I decide to abandon it.
"A halting performance for a superb book"
I love this book. This is one of my all time favorite books with an entertaining and true story interspersed with fascinating background vignettes that add historical context and interest. The problem is the narrator. He makes long pauses in the middle of phrases. This makes the performance feel very halting and overall is distracting to the story. I am disappointed as I am consistently annoyed by the narrator and I am having difficulty enjoying the book at all.
"Entertaining and Informative"
As always with Michael Crichton, his research is phenomenal, entertaining storyline but you always feel you have learnt a lot about the subject matter too. So in this case Mr Crichton includes relevant details on the history and beliefs of the time, the social etiquette and class restrictions and on a variety of matters from dog fighting to safes, prisons and the police force. A sad day when we lost this amazing writer full of imagination but committed to researching his subject matter.
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