"So arrives Jack Maggs, one of the great characters of Peter Carey's fiction. So begins a novel that will intrigue, entertain and engross you to the last exhilarating page."
It was a Saturday night when the man with the red waistcoat arrived in London. It was to be precise, six of the clock on Saturday the fifteenth of April in the year of 1837 that those hooded eyes looked out of the window of the Dover coach and beheld, in the bright aura of gas light, a golden bull and an overgrown mouth opening to devour him - the sign of his inn, The Golden Ox.
The Rocket (as his coach was aptly named) rattled in through the archway to the inn's yard and the passengers, who had hitherto found the stranger so taciturn, now noted the silver-capped cane - which had begun to tap the floor at Westminster Bridge - commence a veritable tattoo.
He was a tall man in his forties, so big in the chest and broad in the shoulder that his fellows on the bench seat had felt the strain of his presence, but what his occupation was, or what he planned to do in London, they had not the least idea. One privately imagined him a book-maker, another a gentleman farmer and a third, seeing the excellent quality of his waistcoat, imagined him an upper servant wearing his master's cast-off clothing.
His face did not deny the possibility of any of these occupations; indeed he would have been a singular example of any of them. His brows pushed down hard upon the eyes, and his cheeks shone as if life had scrubbed at him and rubbed until the very bones beneath his flesh had been burnished in the process. His nose was large, hawkish, and high-bridged. His eyes were dark, inquiring, and yet there was a bruised even belligerent quality which had kept his fellow passengers at their distance all through that long journey up from Dover.
From the UQP hardback edition, 1997.
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Last modified: October 25, 2001.