Now nearly old enough to receive Social Security and in a mellow mood, a once-notorious cat burglar reveals how he filched from the rich and famous.
Mason was no Robin Hood; he kept what he stole. With evident aid from veteran thriller writer Gruenfeld (The Street, 2001, etc.), he details the mechanics of his most exciting jewelry heists. His m.o. included prospecting the society pages for those who had it and flaunted it, carefully casing their homes, and planning for every contingency he could think of. He never confronted a victim, never carried a weapon, and delayed fencing the loot. He worked alone, though the papers usually reported his daring robberies as the work of gangs. In his day, the one-man gang lifted serious bling-bling from notables like Mrs. Armand Hammer, Robert Goulet, and a Mafioso. He nabbed Johnny Weismuller’s Olympic medal and sent it back. He hit Phyllis Diller twice. Though he mingled with the upper crust, clearly the savvy gonif consorted more with criminal toughs than society toffs. Supplementing his recreations of the thrill of the heist, Mason also offers abundant info on the feckless underworld life, sharp looks at lawyers and the criminal-justice system from arrest through prison to parole, and a couple of tips on thwarting break-ins. While burglary was his avocation, this thief had a decent day job. Even as he was nabbed and shipped to jail, he remained a regular family man. Eventually, his wife divorced him. A happy liaison with an heiress followed. As Mason reports, the police despised him, but his families loved him. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it, but the charm of it all evaporates a bit over time, as the narrative begins to sound like a repentant confession from atop a bar stool.
Engaging, extravagant account of life on the wrong side of the law that leaves readers to decide how much to like the rogue—and how much to believe him. (Photo insert, not seen)