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The story follows the exploits of three desperate escaped convicts. They rob banks and have a string of successes. They buy guns, nice clothes, and fast cars and read about themselves in the newspapers. Bowie, the central figure of the three thieves, had been serving time for a murder he committed when only 16. Bowie falls in love with Keechie, the cousin of one of his partners, and she joins him on the run.
First published in 1937, Anderson's Thieves Like Us offered gritty realism. The Depression had unleashed an infamous crime spree. Gangsters like Baby Face Nelson, Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde were in the headlines, and across America desperate men were driven to crime. Anderson drew on his own rough experiences during the Depression, and he interviewed prisoners at Huntsville prison, recording their stories and making note of their speech patterns and perspectives. Anderson used this research to create rich characterizations like T-Dub, who provides the novel's title when he refers to bankers, politicians, and the like as "just thieves like us".
This widely acclaimed classic has been adapted to film twice, by Nicholas Ray in 1949 and Robert Altman in 1974, and the Library of America included it in Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 1940s. Mike Dennis has just the right amount of grit in his voice, the perfect touch of menace, and a facility with accents that make him the ideal narrator for Thieves Like Us.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Roy Bonario on 06-27-16
Excellent story and narration by Mike Dennis
Would you listen to Thieves Like Us again? Why?
I would watch the film versions and compare them with this narration.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Thieves Like Us?
There were many but I loved the depiction of the 30's depression era and the "Asphalt Jungle" type ending the best.
What does Mike Dennis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Mike's excellent narration makes the characters come to life
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
"Tough times made tough people but most were all human at heart"
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By AudioBook Reviewer on 06-27-16
This is classic noir
Thieves Like Us was originally published in 1937 and is part of the American Noir of the 1930s and 40s collection. It provided the basis for two films: They Live By Night (1949) and Thieves Like Us (1974).
The story focuses on Bowie, Chicamaw, and T-Dub. Bowie, the youngest of them, killed a guy when he was 16. Chicamaw and T-Dub are convicted bank robbers. Following their escape from a chain gang, they continue robbing banks in order to get smart clothes, fast cars, and more guns. Bowie becomes romantically involved with Keechie, a young girl who is related to Chicamaw and who works at a gas station where they hide out. Set in the 1930s in Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, this is a Depression-era story with a good bit of social commentary, with bankers referred to as "thieves like us" and politicians who “use their damned tongues instead of a gun.”
I found the story slow to start with, as there was a lot of conversation between the three men that I didn't find particularly engrossing. Once the plot started to focus on Bowie and Keechie, I found myself a lot more engaged. But action-packed, this isn't. In fact, a lot of the action, such as the bank robberies, chases etc, is described retrospectively via newspaper articles. I thought that was quite a good narrative device as the media account of the "dangerous" criminals didn't tally at all with their rather dull lives of hiding out, reading the paper and discussing ball games.
There was a feeling of unease right from the start which turned to unavoidable doom at the latest by the time Bowie and Keechie set off road tripping and 'Bonnie and Clyde' automatically came to mind. This is hard-boiled crime fiction, but quite moving in parts. Bowie was a really interesting character, extremely loyal and also generous, defiantly proclaiming “I never robbed nothin’ that couldn’t stand being robbed.” However, when he reminisced about Keechie, he sometimes came across as a total psychopath thinking "I can snap her little body. I can break her little body in my grip." Their relationship was difficult to believe at times.
The narration by Mike Dennis was first-class. His voice suited the protagonists, the pacing was excellent and his delivery really captured the setting. You felt transported back to that period in time and the story came to life.
This is classic noir, and if you appreciate stories of inevitable self-destruction, then this is an appealing listen that perfectly captures the 30s Depression era.
Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher.
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8 of 11 people found this review helpful