"Electrifying." --Booklist (starred)
Willie Sutton was born in the Irish slums of Brooklyn in 1901, and he came of age at a time when banks were out of control. Sutton saw only one way out and only one way to win the girl of his dreams. So began the career of America's most successful bank robber. During three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List. But the public rooted for the criminal who never fired a shot, and when Sutton was finally caught for good, crowds at the jail chanted his name.
In J.R. Moehringer's retelling, it was more than need or rage that drove Sutton. It was his first love. And when he finally walked free--a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969--he immediately set out to find her.
"What Hilary Mantel did for Thomas Cromwell and Paula McLain for Hadley Hemingway . . . J.R. Moehringer now does for bank robber Willie Sutton." --Newsday
"Thoroughly absorbing. . . . Filled with vibrant and colorful re-creations of not one but several times in the American past." --Kevin Baker, author of Strivers Row
"[J.R. Moehringer] has found an historical subject equal to his vivid imagination, gimlet journalistic eye, and pitch-perfect ear for dialogue. By turns suspenseful, funny, romantic, and sad--in short, a book you won't be able to put down." --John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road and The Commoner
Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2012: When Willie Sutton walked from Attica Prison on Christmas, 1969, the Irish, Brooklyn-born bank robber reemerged as a folk hero for American everymen fed up with a financial system that favored the rich. Infamous for his flair for disguise, Willie the Actor and his crew shook down 100 banks between the 1920s and his final arrest in 1952. He claimed to have never killed anyone, but he spent over half his adult life in prison, where he saved his sanity by reading classics and meticulously plotting audacious escapes--some successful. In Sutton, J.R. Moehringer (The Tender Bar) performs a similarly audacious feat, tunneling through layers of legend and emerging with a novel that hums with the truth of Sutton's life, with all its dramatic contradictions. Shifting easily between Willie's first Christmas of freedom and the pivotal events of his past, Moehringer's tale of how lost love and desperation compelled Sutton to feats of (admittedly criminal) brilliance rivals those in The Shawshank Redemption. --Mari Malcolm