The Unusual Suspect
The remarkable true story of a modern-day Robin Hood, from Times feature writer Ben Machell
It is 2007, a time of recession and impending climate crisis, and one young man decides to change the world.
Meet 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.
Jackley used disguise, elaborate escape routes and replica pistols to successfully hold up a string of banks, making away with thousands of pounds. He committed ten robberies in south-west England over a six-month period and bank notes marked with ‘RH’ – ‘Robin Hood’ – began finding their way into the hands of the homeless. The police, despite their concerted efforts, had no idea what was going on or who was responsible. That is until Jackley’s ambition got the better of him.
This is his story.
A gripping account of the unlikely criminal career of Stephen Jackley . . . Assured prose boosts Machell's stranger-than-fiction true crime narrative. This balanced and sympathetic look at a troubled young man should have broad appeal * * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * * 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 * * 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 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 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 Completely fascinating . . . reads like a deep psychological thriller, but it's real. Is truth stranger than fiction? You bet -- LEE CHILD
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