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The Unusual Suspect Reviews

The Unusual Suspect by Ben Machell

The Unusual Suspect: The Remarkable True Story of a Modern-Day Robin Hood

Ben Machell

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: Canongate Books Ltd
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Publication date: 21 Jan 2021
ISBN: 9781786897961

The remarkable true story of a modern-day Robin Hood, from Times feature writer Ben Machell

  • The GuardianBook of the Day
4 stars out of 5
Blake Morrison
21 Jan 2021

"A splendid account of Stephen Jackley, whose bank robberies were an attempt to fight poverty and injustice"

Collaborations between journalists and criminals often end badly, with the former either being duped by the latter (as Norman Mailer was by Jack Henry Abbott) or “gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse” (Janet Malcolm’s description of Joe McGinniss’s treatment of the murderer Jeffrey MacDonald in his book Fatal Vision). Machell’s book is an honourable exception. He has had considerable help from his subject (referred to throughout as Stephen) without surrendering editorial freedom or fully buying into his version of events. Drawing heavily on Jackley’s journals and diligently tracking down people who met him at different points of his life, the book explains but doesn’t exonerate. The string of robberies left innocent victims traumatised, something Jackley, devoid of empathy, couldn’t see at the time and now deeply regrets.