Schroeder chronicles eight high-profile criminals or crimes, mostly highbrow, a couple low-down and dirty.
It is difficult to think of these thieves as bad guys, so cunning and audacious were the crimes. A few are full of brio and dash, from the theft of the Mona Lisa to the parachuting hijacker D.B. Cooper, and a couple are solidly in the suave-sophisticated vein, like Willie Sutton and second-story man Arthur Barry. Others are just all business, like the Laguna Niguel heist or England’s Great Train Robbery, or sheer thuggery: Victor Desmarais and Leo Martial’s Canadian robbery fiasco. Schroeder provides enough detail to get readers involved in more than a sensationalist manner, even delving into some strange psychological consequences of a life in thievery, and Simard sprinkles the action with mostly minimalist panels, all in shades of gray, but with a fun geometrical stylization. The narratives are light, yet full of the devilish details that often sink the best-laid plans, but not frivolous or unaware of their larger context. These are crimes, after all, and hardly of the Robin Hood variety: Barry may have targeted the rich, but the poor didn’t benefit. Plus, almost always, guns were involved. Even Sutton, the most benign of highwaymen, quipped, “You can’t rob a bank on charm and personality.”
Our fascination with outlaws lives on in this selection of cleverboots and artful dodgers. (bibliography, index, further reading) (Nonfiction. 9-12)