Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't Call Me a Crook -- Bob Moore

It's hard to imagine anybody who could read the first paragraph, much less the first page, of Don't Call Me a Crook and not want to read right on to the end.  Bob Moore knows how to get your attention. 

According to the prefatory material, Bob Moore published this bit of autobiography in 1935.  It just goes to show that the Scots have been writing hardboiled since the days of Hammett.  Moore might not have been a crook (crooks steal things from people, but he only swiped things when he needed them or when it seemed like a shame to pass up the opportunity, or so he says), but he was a thief, killer, gunrunner, conman, hard drinker, racist, and chaser after women.  His autobiography reads as if the two of you were in a seedy bar where he was regaling you with his exploits one right after the other without pausing except to take a drink or a breath.  There's not a lot of that annoying description that certain current Scots writers don't like, not is there much character development.  Moore begins and ends as a thorough scoundrel.  

Don't Call Me a Crook is fascinating reading and a window on a time long gone.  If you thought you were getting the true gen about the underbelly of society from the pulps, give Moore a try.   He'll take you on a wild ride from Scotland to  New York to Chicago to China and back again.  I think you'll get a kick out of the big yarns he spins.

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