For some reason, whenever someone had mentioned this book to me earlier, I had always pictured a cowboy on horseback chasing down a train in the wild, wild west, complete with a lasso in his hand. I have no idea how I made that relation but the image stuck. And since cowboys and westerns were not really my thing, I had never felt the urge to pick this book up, until now.
Oh, how so very wrong I had been!
You can safely assume I kicked myself a fair number of times after I was about a quarter-way through this book, for this was most definitely NOT a western!
The Great Train Robbery is a basically an account of a event that actually occurred about a century and a half ago, put together by some excellent research work by Michael Crichton. I can only imagine the number of people he had had to talk to, the amount of newspaper clippings he had had to go through to put together this tale so wonderfully that never, not for a second, do you doubt that those people had said and felt and expressed the very things mentioned in the book, in actuality. In fact, the side tidbits Crichton offered shed a wonderful light on life in the 1800's and I, as someone who knows little about how the world worked back then, thoroughly enjoyed those insights.
Simply put, this story is about a man who wants to steal some gold, and who enlists the help of certain skilled people to pull the whole thing off, all based on a crazy, insane but highly intricate and meticulous plan. A fellow reviewer likened it to the Victorian Era's Ocean's Eleven, and I couldn't agree more.
The fascinating thing about this is IT ALL ACTUALLY HAPPENED. The fact that an audacious, insane, genius of a man pulled off such a large-scale, highly publicized robbery IN THE VICTORIAN ERA is simply astounding - so much so that one comes to admire and root for him in the end. I actually cheered out loud when I found out he got away with it finally! :D
Brilliant narration of a thrilling tale. Highly recommended!