Spanning over 60 years, this is the story of a pair of dedicated 19th-century American safecrackers, Robert Scott and Jim Dunlap, whose careers are apparently taken from real life as well as being modeled after the Redford and Newman performances in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting. Jim Dunlap arrives in Chicago to find the town burnt to the ground. Five times he's imprisoned on false charges by an Irish cop who hates his attentions to the girl they share. At last he decides to go as crooked as the cops and joins a safecracking gang that pays off to the cops. So the lore of the cracksman's art opens for him--and a fabulous art it is, with the safe-manufacturers forever trying to outwit the genius of the cracksmen. Young Scott teams up with Dunlap (they become dudes), and they fashion themselves a top-flight crime ring and eventually take the Northampton Bank for $1.4 million--the world's biggest robbery until the Brink's caper. Scott dies young in prison, but Dunlap--after serving nearly all of a twenty-year sentence--goes back into the business. The period detail is dandy, the dialogue (the 19th-century sentimental rhetoric that passed for manly talk) has a freshly belted snap, and the capers fly by like spellbinding dishes at a feast.