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.
books i done read