Wednesday 13 June 2012

Sutton by J. R. Moehringer - Book Review

Title: Sutton
Author: J. R. Moehringer
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication Date: 25th September 2012
Pages: 351
Format: E-Book -PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC from NetGalley

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Willie Sutton was born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, and came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren't failing outright, causing countless Americans to lose their jobs and homes, they were being propped up with emergency bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams. 

So began the career of America's most successful bank robber. Over three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, and such a master at breaking out of prisons, police called him one of the most dangerous men in New York, and the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List.

But the public rooted for Sutton. He never fired a shot, after all, and his victims were merely those bloodsucking banks. When he was finally caught for good in 1952, crowds surrounded the jail and chanted his name.

Blending vast research with vivid imagination, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer brings Willie Sutton blazing back to life. In Moehringer's retelling, it was more than poverty or rage at society that drove Sutton. It was one unforgettable woman. In all Sutton's crimes and confinements, his first love (and first accomplice) was never far from his thoughts. And when Sutton finally walked free - a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969 - he immediately set out to find her.

Poignant, comic, fast-paced and fact-studded, Sutton tells a story of economic pain that feels eerily modern, while unfolding a story of doomed love that is forever timeless. (Goodreads Synopsis)

When I started this book, the only thing I knew of Sutton was that his name was vaguely familiar. Now I feel I know him much better.

You can tell straightaway that a lot of research and love went into the writing of this story. Sutton really comes to life on the page as a lovable rogue and I loved the way the narrative jumped from past to present as Sutton remembered his life, telling his story to a reporter. It was a device that was well employed and really helps the reader identify with the character and his experiences.

The prose was very readable, with plenty of wit and humour, and the pacing worked very well. I was hooked by every page and there was never a dull moment. I thought there was also a wonderful sense of time and place developed, and in many ways, these are pivotal to Sutton's story.

This is a book that is well worth your time and money - highly recommended.

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