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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 listeners say about The Great Train Robbery

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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!

109 people found this 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!

65 people found this 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.

59 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Worst. Reader. Of. All. Time.

Michael Kitchen, the reader, is the worst example from the school of readers that refuses to try again when they get it wrong.

His method seems to be to strip out all punctuation, and then to reintroduce a double dose in random locations.

In the following example, I do my best to capture the experience you will have trying to listen to this book.

Excerpt:
"A few daring, commentators, even had the temerity to suggest. That, crime. Was not linked, to social conditions at all. But rather sprang from some other. Impulse. Such opinions were, to say the least. Highly. Distasteful. They remain. Distasteful. To the present day. More than a century, after the Great Train Robbery and more than a decade. After another. Spectacular. English. Train Robbery."

49 people found this 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.

33 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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CRIME DOES PAY

PAYS WELL
If you have read Crichton, than you know that he does a lot of research. That research always comes out in is stories, sometimes in story form and sometimes in lecture form. If it is a subject you enjoy, you might not be bothered by the lecture form. If it is a subject your not that interested in, you will not be that entertained. This had good parts and told me a lot about the time, that I did not know or knew, but forgot. Notice, I said told me and not showed me. This is mostly a long lecture.

Crichton does often make me think and often goes against the grain of other authors. In America, we are raised hearing that cheaters never win and we watch cop shows, detective shows, etc.. showing that the bad guy never wins. Crichton points out that in the real world most crimes go unsolved. Once I started thinking about it, I realized he was right. Car thieves are almost never caught. In my area we have had several high profile murder cases, where someone was put on trail, not convicted and no one else was convicted. Some political families of today got started through boot legging and/or some other illegal activity.

Reviewers
If you do reviews for audible, you may have had the number one review and in less than a day, you have had five to ten unhelpful votes and someone else is in first place who has five to ten helpful votes. You might check that reviewers reviews and find that he/she has recurring numbers of helpful votes, when the review is fairly new. One teacher from California who reads lots of kid books, would often have two helpful votes and all the reviews below her would have 2 unhelpful votes.

If you start climbing the charts for reviews you may find that every time you write a review, within a day or two it has five unhelpful votes and the last ten reviews you wrote have five unhelpful votes, what a coincidence! One reviewer now named User prime number prime number, formerly known as Charley, would have 30 helpful votes within a couple of days and would have that many on all his reviews.

At audible cheaters do prosper or did. Those I mentioned got caught, but not by audible, but by a better cheater. Audible has finally done something to slow this down, but how long will it last.

If your review gets hit real fast by what you think is a lot of ppl and someone else raises to the top with pretty close to the same numbers in the positive as you got in the negative, well that was most likely one person, not a bunch of ppl. If someone has been at the top of the list for years and all of a sudden some guy with a bunch of cats on his head comes out of nowhere to take the lead in that category, well think twice. As far as cheaters not prospering, they do until a bigger better cheater comes along.

29 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

26 people found this 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.

20 people found this helpful

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Great pace and realism

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

17 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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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.

16 people found this 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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Just
  • 02-02-20

The Great Download

Michael Kitchen reads this book well, and it is one of Michael Crichton's better books from the 1970s. For enthusiasts of Crichton, of Victoriana, of true crime, this will undoubtedly appeal. For those who just want an entertaining listen, then it will not disappoint.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Eddie Kingham
  • 12-04-18

A terrific listen!

Crichton is under-rated. This is yet another that proves it. Kitchen's narration is superbly dry.

1 person found this helpful

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  • David
  • 06-09-22

Stick with it...

Takes a while to get used to reader's tone and cadence but really comes together after a few chapters.

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  • Miya B
  • 04-12-22

Great story, brilliantly narrated

I found the start of the book a little slow and Michael Kitchen’s narration took a little getting used to but am I glad I did not give up. The story was itself fascinating, and made more so by being based on true events. But the absolute delight of this book are the characters brought to life by the amazing rendition of accents by Michael Kitchen. I am about to go listen to the whole thing again just for the pleasure of hearing the narrator again.

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  • L. Broadhead
  • 11-18-21

Enjoyable

Was not what i had expected. But i love most michael crichton book. But very enjoyable. I would highly recommend to everyone

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  • TeePee
  • 08-30-21

Brilliant

Absolutely brilliant. Not only a great story but also very informative about the time it was in. Michael Kitchen as usual on great form, thoroughly enjoyed it

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  • Stuart Houston
  • 06-20-21

Cracking yarn

Brilliant story and an education in Victorian Britain and it’s culture, values, prejudices and society. Gripping all the way through and expertly told and narrated. Fantastic read/listen.

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  • Tony D
  • 06-04-21

A great listen

At first it was hard to keep up with all the old slang, however, it is a great book that I stumbled on by accident.

The narration took time to get used to but, as the book went on i became
more in tune with it.

Have to say, the picture it paints of old Victorian London amongst the classes, the way they interacted and used each other, their living conditions and their never dull slang, is quite amazing.

What a place and time it must have been to live in.

Fully recommended as a listen.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-30-20

Caper and History Lesson in one book

Loved this. The story is engaging on its own, the background vignettes about life in London in the 1850s make it all the better. Highly recommend.

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  • Bhavik
  • 07-26-22

Tedious

The story lacked content. It was hard to comprehend the language. Story was too long and it kept going off in tangent

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • james heyblom
  • 11-19-20

A jolly good romp

Excellent delivery on an engaging and fun story. The best audible I have listened to so far

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-07-20

Get this book

Fascinating book. Very easy listen. Great insight and engaging story of people, a robbery and Victorian London

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • vinny
  • 03-14-19

good listen

english 8s my 2nd language, this was a little hard to understand at times but great book overall

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.