The Unusual Suspect
It is 2007, a time of recession and impending climate crisis, and one young man decides to change the world.
This is the story of Stephen Jackley, a British geography student with Asperger’s Syndrome. Aged just twenty-one, obsessed with the idea of Robin Hood, and with no prior experience, he resolved to become a bank robber. He would steal from the rich and give to the poor.
And he did. Bank notes mysteriously found their way into the hands of the homeless. The police had no idea who was responsible. Until Jackley’s ambition got the better of him.
Completely fascinating . . . reads like a deep psychological thriller, but it's real. Is truth stranger than fiction? You bet -- LEE CHILD One of the strengths of Ben Machell's compelling book is its patient unearthing of the various motivations for his subject's behaviour . . . This splendid book . . . does full justice to his complexity * * Guardian * * Stephen Jackley, the "Robin Hood" bank robber, is an Asperger's student with an incredible, increasingly dark story, which Machell tells with Hollywood box-office wit, compassion and brio. With every page, you find yourself screaming "OH MY GOD - WHAT ARE YOU DOING, STEPHEN?", all the way up to him ending in US jail. How one young man's misguided plan to save the world went increasingly, dangerously wrong -- CAITLIN MORAN Truly affecting true crime. I've heard it said that a villain is just a victim whose story hasn't been told - this big-hearted, fascinating, meticulous book made me feel that way about Stephen Jackley -- MARINA HYDE Fascinating . . . In Machell, [Jackley] has found the most sympathetic and intelligent of biographers . . . The Unusual Suspect raises important questions about our ideas of guilt, idealism and the nature of responsibility . . . a tremendously invigorating book, scrupulously researched, sympathetically told, a picaresque tale of modern life, by turns funny and sad * * Mail on Sunday * * Ben Machell's deeply reported book is not only a gripping true-crime story, but also a sensitive and melancholy portrait of someone who has long struggled to fit in to society * * New Statesman * * An astonishing story which resonates at a time of staggering inequality, and one which asks salient questions about wealth redistribution * * Esquire * * [A] cross between heist tale and biography . . . Machell treats his subject . . . with tender fascination, disapproving of Jackley's strategy but not his world view * * New Yorker * * Meet Stephen: university student, bank robber, modern Robin Hood, human being. He was only good at one of them; thankfully it was the only one that mattered. A truly remarkable story -- TERRY HAYES, author of I AM PILGRIM Was Stephen Jackley a cynical attention-seeker, or an idealist fighting a broken system, or something else entirely? Whatever the truth, his story - superbly written, and expertly reported - reveals the troubling place of finance in the centre of all of our lives -- OLIVER BULLOUGH * * author of Moneyland * *
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