Classic crime-fiction situations and two historical questions for readers
But here’s what caught my attention. The scene is an empty second-story apartment into which the cool, cricket-playing, Keats-loving burglar of the title has made his way along with his high-strung, impecunious friend Bunny. Why an apartment? Because of what lies below, at street level: A jeweler’s shop.
“I know the shop,” [Raffles] whispered, “because I’ve got a few things there. I know this upper part, too; it’s been to let for a month, and I got an order to view, and took a cast of the key before using it. The one thing I don’t know is how to make a connection between the two; at present there’s none. We may make it up here, though I rather fancy the basement myself. If you wait a minute I’ll tell you.”How to make a connection between the two. How to get at a heavily protected jeweler's first by breaking into another, more vulnerable apartment in the same building, and then having to figure out how to get to the main target. Here, in the nineteenth century, is the basic situation at the heart of heist movies of the twentieth. Three that come to mind are Asphalt Jungle, the superior Rififi, and the spoof Big Deal on Madonna Street, which is better than both.
I have two questions for readers this time: What other caper movies or stories follow this basic plot line? And what other plot lines from crime fiction’s earliest age have reproduced in our own time?
While you're thinking, here's an article about E.W. Hornung and Raffles written by Simon Brett.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008