Gallows Thief: A Novel
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The year is 1820. Rider Sandman, a hero of Waterloo, returns to London to wed his fiancée. But instead of settling down to fame and glory, he finds himself penniless in a country where high unemployment and social unrest rage, and where men—innocent or guilty—are hanged for the merest of crimes.
When he's offered a job as private investigator to re-open the case of a painter due to be hanged for a murder he didn't commit, Sandman readily accepts—as much for the money as for a chance to see justice done in a country gone to ruins.
Soon, however, he's mired in a grisly murder plot that keeps thickening. Sandman makes his way through gentlemen's clubs and shady taverns, aristocratic mansions, and fashionable painters' studios determined to rescue the innocent young man from the rope. But someone doesn't want the truth revealed.
Books by Bernard Cornwell The Sharpe Novels (in chronological order) SHARPE’S TIGER* • SHARPE’S TRIUMPH* SHARPE’S FORTRESS* • SHARPE’S TRAFALGAR* SHARPE’S PREY* • SHARPE’S RIFLES SHARPE’S HAVOC* • SHARPE’S EAGLE SHARPE’S GOLD • SHARPE’S BATTLE* SHARPE’S COMPANY • SHARPE’S SWORD SHARPE’S ENEMY • SHARPE’S HONOUR SHARPE’S REGIMENT • SHARPE’S SIEGE SHARPE’S REVENGE •SHARPE’S WATERLOO SHARPE’S DEVIL* The Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles REBEL* • COPPERHEAD* • BATTLE FLAG* THE BLOODY
acquaintanceship, one learns trivia. There was little love lost in that family, I can tell you. Father despising the son, father hating the wife, wife detesting the husband, and the son bitterly disposed toward both. I must say the Earl and Countess of Avebury form an object lesson in the perils of family life. Oh, well struck! Well struck! Good man! Capital work! Scamper, scamper!” Sandman applauded the batsman, then sipped the last of his tea. “I’m surprised to learn that Carl and Countess
to his feet and limp out of the passage. So why, he wondered, would the Seraphim Club want him? And why send two bullies to fetch him? Why not just send an invitation? He followed the limping man into the taproom, where a score of customers were seated at the tables. A blind fiddler was tuning his instrument in the chimney corner and he looked up sharply, white eyes blank, as Sally Hood uttered a squeak of alarm. She was staring at the gun in Sandman’s hand. He raised it, pointing the blackened
beside her. “Allow me to name Sergeant Berrigan,” he told her, “once of His Majesty’s First Foot Guards. This is Miss Sally Hood.” “Sam Berrigan,” the Sergeant said, plainly amused by Sally’s fury, “and I’m honored, miss.” “I’m bleeding not honored.” She glared at him. “A pound?” Sandman asked Berrigan. “I said those two dozy bastards wouldn’t take you, sir. Not Captain Sandman of the Fifty-second.” Sandman half smiled. “Lord Skavadale seemed to know me as a cricketer, not as a soldier.” “I
here?” he asked. “A pen?” Corday had both and Sandman tore one of the big pieces of drawing paper in half, dipped the steel nib in the ink, let it drain, and began to write. Dear Witherspoon, he began, the bearer of this letter, Sergeant Samuel Berrigan, is a companion of mine. He served in the First Foot Guards and I trust him absolutely. Sandman was not certain those last four words were entirely true, but he had little choice now but to assume Berrigan was trustworthy. He dipped the nib into