World, Chase Me Down

Andrew Hilleman. Penguin, $16 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-14-311147-4
In this lively first novel, Hilleman re- imagines the life of a turn-of-the-20th-century kidnapper who committed the first “crime of the century.” On Dec. 18, 1900, Pat Crowe and his accomplice, Billy Cavanaugh, abduct the 16-year-old son of Edward Cudahy, owner of a meatpacking plant in Omaha, Neb. During the abduction, Cudahy recognizes Pat, forcing the kidnapper to go on the lam—to Japan, then South Africa, where he fights with the Boer army. Arrested after more misadventures back in the U.S., Pat is put on trial, finding himself a political pawn of the haves and a folk hero to the have-nots. In flashbacks we see Pat’s marriage to a woman named Hattie and what transpired with Cudahy to inspire the kidnapping. A framing device places Pat in the 1930s, where, among other things, he tries to make himself useful to detectives in Hopewell, N.J., investigating the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. Although the story is based on a variety of firsthand accounts, the author refuses to be bound by facts alone, and the result is a raucous example of narrative invention. Pat makes for an enthusiastic narrator, and he ends his story on a surprising note that affirms man’s infinite capacity for resilience in the face of life’s harsh vicissitudes. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2016
Release date: 01/24/2017
Prebound-Glued - 352 pages - 978-0-606-39449-9
Hardcover - 609 pages - 978-1-4104-9882-3
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