cover image The Blue Suit: A Memoir of Crime

The Blue Suit: A Memoir of Crime

Richard Rayner / Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95

In calm, precise retrospect, the pushing-midlife Rayner (Los Angeles Without a Map) limns a chilling growing-up story in which ``life was a question of surviving... of not getting caught.'' His father, a crook who disappeared when the author was a youth, shadows his life and this narrative. So when Richard, at Cambridge, was faced with a debt, he graduated from pinching books to forging checks, putting on his blue suit to approach London bankers. He dabbled in burglary and was lightly fined when caught shoplifting once. More clinical than apologetic in his flashbacks, Rayner fleshes out his horrors, adding a sometimes vicious mother to his psychohistory. He proceeded as an apprentice journalist and failed novelist in London; he consorted--even in crime--with a high-born woman married to a junkie. It was good fortune in life, not any moral epiphany, that eased him out of crime. Now in L.A. and a new relationship, he has liberated his family secrets and personal demons: ``I'm having to wring the thief out of me drop by drop.'' First serial to Granta; author tour. (Oct.)