Pulitzer Prize-winning writer J.R. Moehringer makes his fiction debut with this delicious read about the life of Depression-era bank robber Willie Sutton.
Willie Sutton (1901 - 1980) was kindhearted, hardworking, and inherently honorable. But from a young age, the goodness in him was beaten down and bullied out. At every turn his attempts to earn a living and live a decent life were thwarted.
Banks loomed large in Willie's life, and he came to understand that the people who ran them were the worst dregs of society – immoral and greedy men who had no compassion for those who struggled to eke out a living. One pivotal humiliation turned Willie toward a career he could control: robbing banks.
Notwithstanding his talent as a bank robber, Willie Sutton was no stranger to incarceration, or to extricating himself from jail. His charm and personality – as well as his creed of non-violence – made him a folk hero.
In Sutton, the reader meets Willie as an old man just after his final release from prison on Christmas Eve, 1969. Within minutes of walking out, he is kidnapped by a reporter and photographer who have been waiting for hours for the big "get" – the first real interview with Willie Sutton. Willie obliges – but in his way. Over the course of the next 24 hours, Willie takes his captors through a chronological series of emotional flashbacks of the defining moments in his life. It is a fascinating story, loosely based on truth, and filled with memorable Runyonesque characters, including Willie's love, Bess.
Like with Bonnie and Clyde, this story will draw you in and have you rooting for the bad guy all the way. Sutton is very much a book to savour.