“The Unusual Suspect“ is the true-crime saga of Stephen Jackley. His life and wrongdoings are definitely strange, sad, and yet somehow exhilarating. Stephen Jackley is about as far from a typical bank robber as one could get. He decided that the world was not fair and that he could make a difference by robbing banks, a modern Robin Hood. He even left behind mementoes, coins with a scratch mark or banknotes marked with “RH.” He thought robbing banks would work, so that was what he did. Jackley might have been naïve, but he was not stupid; he was confident and resourceful.
Machell takes readers into Jackley’s world via his personal journals; Jackley wrote down everything, his adolescence, his crimes, his time in jail. He documented his thoughts, his accomplishments, and his plans. This provides readers with an interesting insight into his thinking, his world, and his motivation. Jackley evolves as a complicated figure with undiagnosed Asperger syndrome. However, he was not “let down” by the system; it is not society’s fault that he committed crimes. He just decided, on his own, to rob banks.
I do not read many “true crime” accounts. Non-fiction authors are not supposed to “make stuff up” to create suspense and drama; therefore, many tend to be predictable and sometimes tedious. That is certainly not the case with “The Unusual Suspect.” I found the book interesting, thought provoking, and even compelling, as I read of Jackley’s escapades, his duty to rob banks for some greater good, and his ability to get away with it for so long. I received a review copy of “The Unusual Suspect” from Ben Machell, Random House Publishing, and Ballantine Books. It should definitely be on the “read next” list for all readers, fans of true crime or not.