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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Outstanding Story and Performance

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

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.

What does Michael Kitchen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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

Any additional comments?

Listen to this book. It was great fun from beginning to end.

37 of 40 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • LOS ANGELES, CA, United States
  • 11-21-15

An unusual but rewarding listen

Any additional comments?

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!

39 of 41 people found this review helpful

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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.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

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The WORST narration

The narrator rendered this unlistenable. Even at 1.25x playback speed it was maddeningly ponderous and slow. Had to return.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Crichton classic

Unlike Crichton books set in contemporary times, The Great Train Robbery ages well because it's not as linked to science and technology of the day. It's a glimpse into mid Victorian London and Britain, a criminal (rather than police) procedural, a character study. Narration is excellent. It might be a little too heavy on technical and historical detail and a little short on character and personality development, but that's typical Crichton.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Exciting listen!

Some people will be put off by the narrator's style, or the additional tidbits of information that Crichton threw in to his historical, but I found both to be enjoyable and effective in setting the scene and tone of the era. I will likely listen to this piece again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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What a fun ride!

I really loved this book! It reminded me of a Sherlock Holmes book from the thief's perspective. Crichton does an amazing job giving you a feel for the era and the background info is what makes this book such a pleasure. Michael Kitchen is awesome in his narration, although it took me awhile to warm to his style.

My only criticism is that, after reading the book, I found out that Crichton had fictionalized the account and I wish I had known that from the start. I actually thought his account was completely factual (it is for the most part) and I felt kind of duped. But I would highly recommend this book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Darker Than Expected

Knowing that this was the same author behind Jurrassic Park, I expected a family friendly romp. A victorian heist with endearing rogues and witty banter.

Instead, this ended intense and at times depressing. No one is really the good guys here. It's Victorian England and this book revels in the worst aspects of that society. Death is everywhere.

I can't say it's a bad story. It's well written and very well acted. But it's not what I wanted, and I'm glad you be done with it. If you like a gritty crime period drama, this book will do. But if you're looking for a upbeat heist plot like Ocean's Eleven or the Alpha Caper, this book isn't for you.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Mehhhh

A lot of unnecessary detail. Seems like here was more focus on the supporting detail than the core story line.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good listen.

Really fun story. There's cons alá The Sting or r Ocean's movies, murder, break-ins, bribes and of course a great train robbery. I completely enjoyed every aspect of this story and the narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Frankie
  • 11-07-16

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Todd
  • 07-20-16

A good read, but suffers from an identity crisis

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.

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