I love the framework J.R. Moehringer uses to tell the story of Willie, the actor, Sutton, the legendary bank robber.
It begins with Sutton’s release from prison and the subsequent journey on which Sutton leads a reporter and photographer throughout Christmas Day 1969. Rather than tell his story, Sutton insists on following a chronological map of his activities from the first safe he cracks till his last arrest as a fugitive, escaped from prison for the third time. Moehringer creates tension between the present and flashbacks from Sutton’s past; Sutton believes that he will die on this day, and so does the reader. It’s a remarkable story, more compelling because much of it is true. Sutton robbed more than 100 banks and jewelry stores, stealing around two million dollars. Moehringer’s Willie is a complex and enigmatic figure, one whom I couldn’t quite believe would be so sentimental and lovesick. An early lost love colors the rest of the fictional Sutton’s life which detracts, somewhat, from an otherwise smart, entertaining read.