July 5, 2009

Don't Call Me a Crook by "Bob Moore": Review

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I tried reading this a few weeks ago but got so fed up with it I put it aside. I figured it would be on the DNF list. In the meantime, I read a couple of other books. Then publicist Lisa Roe asked me for my review and I thought I'd end up explaining to everyone why I didn't finish it. However, I gave Don't Call Me a Crook another go. I must have needed a palate cleanser because I found it to be more entertaining the second time around.

From the very beginning, Bob Moore tells us he's not a crook. Then why the pseudonym, Bob? My definition of a crook must be different from Bob's because he commits every crime from arson to murder throughout this book. He says he would not choose to live a life of crime and this is the difference between him and a crook. He only takes advantage of opportunities as they present themselves... sure...

Bob, having trained as a marine engineer in Scotland, sets out to travel the world. First stop, America where he immediately steals, pardon me, swipes diamonds and lives the high life until the money runs out. From there, he gets involved in every kind of scheme imaginable, rum running, fraud and occasionally honest work though this always seems to end badly. He also gets married just to see what it's like but since it isn't for him he deserts her and his child.

Bob is either the most charming guy in the world or he manages to find the dumbest people to hang around with because they are practically begging him to rob them. He gives many people "a lesson" after he leaves them penniless. No matter what happens Bob always comes out smelling like a rose.

There is an entertaining interlude where he works on a millionaire's yacht and for once he's not the crookedest person around. I think this is my favorite part of the book. The last section is about his adventures in China and these are the hardest to stomach. I think I could have done without it. He quickly loses my sympathy as he goes from simply idiotic to repulsive.

Don't Call Me a Crook is like an accident on the highway. You don't want to look but you do it anyway always afraid of what you'll see. There's no doubt that Bob is a storyteller, possibly a tall tale teller. I've known guys who could spin a yarn around the kitchen table drinking a beer but luckily not the stomach turning kind that Bob tells. He never makes apologies though. What's done is done and there is no sense in dwelling on it. He's a misogynist, a racist and a criminal but don't call him a crook.

The writing style is difficult to get used to but once you do it's not so bad. Bob's adventures are the money maker here not his prose. Though sometimes horrific, sometimes unbelievable, it is an interesting look at the 1920's. Just put your indignation aside while reading.

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7 comments :

  1. Most of the reviews I've read have been lukewarm, like yours. I think I'll skip this one.

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  2. He sounds charming. Not. Nancy's review was warmer.

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  3. Kathy- It had it's high points.

    Carrie- Yeah, he's hard to like.

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  4. Although this sounds really entertaining, it also sounds pretty rough around the edges. Even on the cover he looks like a pompous... :) Glad it worked for you the second time a little better--sometimes for me it's just a matter of timing.

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  5. I've been fighting my way through this one too. It sounded like a really fascinating book at first, but I can't help feeling like his story is more about bragging than telling.

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  6. Trish- And that's not the guy! lol! The publishers thought he'd make a good stand in.

    Joanne- I think bragging is a good word for it.

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  7. I read this one too and decided not to review it at all because I couldn't think of anything constructive to say. The beginning of the book was mildly interesting but by the end I was just sickened.

    Then there were those annoying and often inane footnotes of words and phrases that are easily understood by the context. A few were helpful but most were just silly. The publisher should have hired a professional to do them instead of doing them himself. A glossary would have been a much better choice for a memoir format, and far less distracting to the reader. Were you bothered by the footnotes?

    Your comparison to an accident that you can't look away from is spot on and your review very well done!

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