cover image A Gentleman and a Thief: The Daring Jewel Heists of a Jazz Age Rogue

A Gentleman and a Thief: The Daring Jewel Heists of a Jazz Age Rogue

Dean Jobb. Algonquin, $32.50 (448p) ISBN 978-1-64375-283-9

Jobb follows up The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream with a top-shelf work of true crime focused on lovestruck “gentleman thief” Arthur Barry (1896–1981). A con artist since his teens, Barry returned to New York City after serving in WWI and used the city’s Social Register to identify targets for a spate of jewel thefts from 1920 to 1927. During the same period that he was slipping in and out of second-story windows belonging to Manhattan’s rich and famous, Barry met and fell in love with young widow Anna Blake. After the two were married, Blake began assisting Barry in his criminal activities. When authorities finally caught Barry in 1927, he confessed to several crimes Blake had committed in order to spare her jail time. While Barry was incarcerated, Blake was diagnosed with cancer, and he staged a prison riot to escape and be with her until she died. After his subsequent arrest, return to prison, and parole, Barry became a minor celebrity. Jobb tells Barry’s tale with both rigor and pathos, painting a tender portrait of a crook who was never fearsome (one victim described him as “charming”). This is liable to steal readers’ hearts. Agent: Hilary MacMahon, Westwood Creative Artists. (June)