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The Thief Taker

The Thief Taker

A Novel

  • reading group guide
In the cellar there was no sound at all except her own breathing and the soft rustle of her skirts. After her eyes had grown accustomed to the dark, she noticed a niche in the wall a yard from where she stood. She saw something there about the size of her fist. Agnes quietly picked it up. It was wrapped in a cloth and surprisingly heavy. . . a pistol, the hilt filthy with mud and dirt. Suddenly she heard the chinking sound of glasses nearby. There was no mistaking the voices now. Before she had time to call out, another door creaked open and the pair emerged from the darkness.

Agnes Meadowes is cook to the Blanchards of Foster Lane, the renowned London silversmiths. Preparing jugged hare, oyster loaves, almond soup, and other delicacies for the family has given her a dependable life for herself and her son. But when the Blanchards' most prestigious commission, a giant silver wine cooler, is stolen and a young apprentice murdered, Theodore Blanchard calls on Agnes to investigate below stairs. Soon she is inside the sordid underworld of London crime, where learning the truth comes at a high price.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743290180 | 
  • September 2006
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide
The Thief Taker
Janet Gleeson


Questions for Discussion
  1. Starting on the first page, consider how Gleeson reveals the book's society and time frame. What are the social classes of the main characters? Share some examples of how the author establishes characters and settings with her language, tone, and cadence.

  2. Why does Agnes keep herself separate from everyone? How does her relationship with the staff change from the beginning to the end of the book?

  3. After Elsie steals from her, Agnes doesn't appear to be angry. Why do you think this is? Are there other instances of Agnes's compassion? If so, what are they?

  4. Agnes suffered greatly at the hands of her husband. How do her past relationships with men impact her actions, particularly with Philip, Thomas, and Marcus Pitt, during the investigation? Do her feelings toward men change?

  5. What are the most powerful instances of station and class affecting how people interact with each other (for example, Agnes and Rose versus Agnes and Lydia Blanchard; Rose and Philip versus Nancy and Nicolas Blanchard)? How does class affect Agnes's ability to investigate Rose's murder?

  6. When Thomas explains the meaning of the stamps on the pieces of silver to Agnes, it casts doubt on the integrity of the Blanchards. At this point in the investigation, whom do you suspect as
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About the Author

Janet Gleeson

Janet Gleeson is the author of the bestseller The Arcanum, as well as Millionaire, The Grenadillo Box, and The Serpent in the Garden. She lives with her family in Dorset.

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