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Extended Audio Sample Gallows Thief Audiobook, by Bernard Cornwell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.43 out of 53.43 out of 53.43 out of 53.43 out of 53.43 out of 5 3.43 (7 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bernard Cornwell Narrator: James Frain Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2005 ISBN: 9780060784515
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Rider Sandman, having fought Napoleon in the French wars, expected to lead the life of an English country gentleman, but now, two years after Waterloo, his family is impoverished, his name is disgraced and he has been forced to relinquish the woman he loves from her obligation to marry him. Desperate to earn money he accepts the job of being the government's Investigator; an official who discovers whether petitions for mercy sent by condemned criminals should be granted. His first case concerns a portrait painter who is due to hang for murder in a week's time and the government makes it clear that they want the verdict confirmed.

But Rider Sandman, whose qualifications for the post are nonexistent, discovers that the painter is almost certainly innocent and, as he peels back the layers of a corrupt penal system, he finds himself pitted against some of the wealthiest and most ruthless men in Regency England who want to keep the truth hidden.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A thing of literary glory. Page for page, sentence for sentence, and scene for heart-stopping scene, Gallows Thief is the strongest historical novel I have read this year.”

    Sunday Telegraph (London)

  • “[A] beautifully crafted historical novel…Cornwell believes in those trusty devices: character and plot. Gallows Thief is a rip-roaring yarn that tips its hat to the basics of good old-fashioned storytelling.”

    Times (London)

  • “Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war, and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation…Cornwell, at his best, is utterly compelling. And this is Cornwell at his best.”

    Daily Mail (London)

  • “Remarkable…a rousing tale.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “James Frain reads with a somber tone that adds tension and menace to Sandman’s quest. His readings of the hanging scenes that open and close the novel are harrowing…The novel works both as a thriller and as a glimpse of life in England shortly after the French Wars.”


  • “Cornwell’s flair for authentic detailing distinguishes this suspenseful, action-packed period whodunit.”


  • “Corwell is superb at weaving the ambience and issues of the day (this time Regency England) with a gripping plot and a memorable character. Readers will hope to see more.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shriya | 4/28/2011

    " A good book, with a nice amalgamaton of mystery, history and the life in Regency England. It's like Dan Brown, Carolyn Keene and Jane Austen combined together to create an epic entertainer! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/22/2011

    " Much about the culture of crime and punishment at that historic time. Well-researched. Some character development. Actually about a 3 1/2. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave | 1/14/2011

    " Anti-Death Penalty rhetoric disguised as a light fiction-mystery???? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristy | 12/30/2010

    " A stand alone book, and one that is up to Cornwell's usual standards. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 10/27/2010

    " A tale of the start of the judicial system. Back in early England, a murder mystery, blackmail and a framed artist. This story unravels a mystery that shows the beginning of the legal system. Overall not a bad read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kataklicik | 9/5/2010

    " Despite the prolific list of books Bernard Cornwell has written, I've never heard of him. Picked this one up from a bargain bin (for RM3), and well, suffice to say I shall be looking for more books by you, Mr. Cornwell. Well written, a whole lot of details included for a period mystery novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 8/1/2010

    " This is a great story and would make a great movie, starring, of course, Sean Bean. He starred in all 15 - 20 Sharpe movies, the books of which were written by the same author who wrote this one. I liked the Sharpe movies a lot. "

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About the Author
Author Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell, born in London, worked for the BBC and Thames Television before coming to the United States to write full time. His sweeping historical novels, including the acclaimed Richard Sharpe series, make him a number one bestselling author in the United Kingdom and around the world. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod.

About the Narrator

James Frain is an English-born actor. He studied drama and film at the University of East Anglia and acting at London’s prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama. While a student, he was cast by Sir Richard Attenborough in Shadowlands, which was followed by other major films, including The Count of Monte Cristo, Water for Elephants, and TRON: Legacy. His theater work includes roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, London’s West End, and Broadway, where he appeared in The Homecoming and shared a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance. His television work includes True Blood and The Tudors. For his audiobook narration, he has been praised for his pacing, accents, and “mellifluous baritone” (AudioFile).