Sutton by J.R. Moehringer (2012)

The alienation from the mother and father, the sibling abuse, the grim poverty, the simultaneity of your life span with a series of the most violent economic convulsions in history, it all created a uncommonly dangerous and potent witches’ brew. By the time you came of age you were very likely to go down the wrong path, to have a great deal of trouble controlling your impulses, but by God, Willie, add to all that the convergence of your first crime with this overpowering first love – that sealed it (p 241).

suttonMoehringer’s romantic take on Willie Sutton, one of America’s most notorious bank robbers, disarms you – just as I imagine Willie disarmed his victims – before waking you at the conclusion with a whisper, a hint that alerts you to reality. But it is too late. You were duped.

After Willie is released from prison on Christmas Eve 1969, he is taken on a tour of NYC with a reporter and photographer. In flashbacks, we see Willie’s life from his perspective. As Moehringer smoothly transitions from past to present, we lose track of what is communicated to Reporter and Photographer. And Sutton/Moehringer carefully excludes or hints but it isn’t until the conclusion, when the past meets the present full on, that Willie is revealed.

An engrossing book that I savored.

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