Admittedly, I don’t see too many new movies at the theater. I guess I’m too busy reading! But, I recently saw an advertisement for a new movie directed by Ben Affleck called The Town I was pleased to find that it is based on a book I read a few years ago called Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan. I really enjoyed this fast paced thriller set in Boston, or more specifically, the blue collar suburb known as Charlestown.
I remember riding the train from New Haven to New York City and seeing posters advertising Prince of Thieves at each rail stop in Connecticut. Obviously, a lot of money was spent advertising this book so I’m happy to find that it has made it to the big screen. My problem with books made into movies, however, is that they often change the plot, take too many concessions and take other liberties under the guise of artistic license. Without a doubt, except for Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living by Julie Powell, I can’t think of any book I’ve read that was made into a movie where the movie was superior to the book.
Here is a very quick synopsis of Prince of Thieves: A Charleston based mask wearing gang of Irish thugs and thieves, all childhood friends, rob a suburban bank. The ringleader, Doug MacRay, can’t get the beautiful young bank manager out of his mind and he begins following her, eventually ingratiating himself into her life. Not knowing who he is, she begins falling for this guy, the same one who robbed her at gunpoint. Complicating the plot is the FBI agent assigned to solve the bank robbery who also meets and is attracted to the bank manager.
You just know this story isn’t going to end well but it is a real page turner fraught with psychological tension.
If you enjoy Dennis Lehane, find a copy of Hogan’s Prince of Thieves. His writing isn’t as lyrical as Lehane’s but he does an admirable job evoking the Boston and Charleston atmosphere as well as keeping the reader turning the pages. And, I just bet, this book will be better than the movie. Plus, you don’t have to pay for the popcorn when reading at home!