by J. R. Moehlinger
Hyperion, 2012. 334 pgs. Historical fiction.
Willie Sutton was a bank robber, one of the best ever, and he was nearly as adept at "crashing out" of prison as he was at doing the things that got him thrown in there in the first place. In J. R. Moehlinger's fine new historical novel, Willie reviews his life and times in a one day--Christmas day--tour with a reporter and a photographer the day after he is released from prison for the last time. Much is imagined here, since Sutton's two memoirs contradict each other, but Moehlinger has not only a fine sense of what Willie's life may--even, must--have been like as well as a deeply engaging prose style. He brings back to life Depression-era America, sounds, sights, and speech. Willie is a deeply-engaging, sympathetic character in these pages. The reader begins pulling for him very quickly, just as his fellow-citizens cheered him on as the Robin Hood of his time and place. Besides, he loved to read.