From Glorious Trash:
for the entire review go here:
Monday, October 19, 2015
Steal Big, by Lionel White
May, 1960 Fawcett Gold Medal
Known as the “king of the capers,” Lionel White is apparently most
remembered as the guy who wrote the novel that Stanley Kubrick’s
1956 film The Killing was based on. That novel was titled Clean Break,
and it’s one I don’t have; strangely, for an author who was once so
popular and well-published, White’s books appear to be pretty scarce
on the used books market. I don’t think any of them have been reprinted,
even by Hard Case Crime. At the very least, his books are overpriced
these days, but I was able to score this one cheap.
Steal Big is a classic heist story. A professional thief named Donovan
has just gotten out of prison and is already planning his next big
caper: this one should bring in at least half a million dollars.
He’s put together a team of five people, and they’re also the
classic diverse lot demanded by this subgenre, from an
alcoholic old woman to an ex-boxer. Or as Donovan himself
An evil old woman who could steal the pennies from a dead
man’s eyes. A puny, psychopathic sadist who likes to kill for the f
un of it. A punch-drunk moron who by all rights should be in a
side show. A college boy who hates the world because he figured
he took a bum rap. A girl who isn’t dry behind the ears yet and who
only wants to go for the ride because she thinks she’ll get enough
money out of it to spring her old man out of the clink.
The putting together of the team is another hallmark of the heist
story, but White skips it here; Donovan, who is described himself
as getting on in years, has already put his team together when the
novel begins. Told in third-person, the book hopscotches across the
perspectives of these characters, sometimes jarringly so
(White is a firm POV-hopper, with perspectives changing between
paragraphs with no space to warn the reader). However, W
hite also plays interesting tricks with time.
He writes sequences and then doubles back a
nd write them from the perspectives of other characters,
which occasionaly lends the narrative a bit of a surprise factor.