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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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Story

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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.<br/><br/>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! <br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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!

44 of 46 people found this review helpful

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UTTERLY DELIGHTFUL!

A gem of a crime story, artfully told with liberal use of the amusing, endearing jargon of the criminal element in Victorian London, written in the form of brief chapters in a manner that engages the reader/listener, not least because the author manages to build and sustain suspense, even while providing strong hints and outright facts about what's to come.

The central figure leads a cast of characters worthy of a Dickens novel, and it's hard to imagine the superb performance of the reader being any better or more suitable for the historical setting and subject matter of the story.

An enthusiastic 5 STARS!

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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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.

41 of 44 people found this review helpful

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Far different from the usual Critchon

Simply nothing short of Fantastic. I was skeptical, but extremely pleased i gave it a shot!

8 of 8 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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Great pace and realism

read the book, saw the movie, but listening has been a great pleasure. Try it

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 10-06-17

Wonderfully researched novel based on true story

This 1975 novel was only the third published by Michael Crichton using his own name. It is not a techno-thriller like most of his novels, but the marvelous Victorian England trivia clearly demonstrates the normal quality of Crichton research obvious in all of his novels. I do not believe The quality of the story of The Great Train Robbery deserves 5 stars, but the Victorian trivia does. So does the narration.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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absolutely wonderful!

the narrator was so excellent, I hung on every word. just loved it!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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great story, unsuitable narration

the narrator has a fine vocal tone and does a good job acting out the different parts, but his cadence is all off: he will pause for dramatic effect at the start of a sentence and then race through to the end of it.

the story itself is tremendous, not only detailing the events leading up to the robbery, but putting onto context thw whole of England in the 1850s, from the railroads to crime to urbanization. i just wish the narration had been someone more suited to the material.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Megan
  • Newport Beach, CA, United States
  • 09-19-16

Terrible Performance

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.

7 of 8 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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  • Alan King
  • 12-01-17

Good version

excellent executed and directed rendition of a great book. superbly narrated by Mr Michael Kitchen

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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.