The Unusual Suspect: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Day Outlaw
By Ben Machell
The remarkable true story of a modern-day Robin Hood: a British college student who started robbing banks as the financial crisis unfolded.
Stephen Jackley was a young British college student when the global financial crisis began in 2007. Overwhelmed by the growing indifference toward economic equality, he became obsessed with the idea of taking on the role of Robin Hood. With no prior experience, he resolved to become a bank robber. He would steal from the rich and give to the poor. Against all likelihood, his plan actually worked.
Jackley used disguises, elaborate escape routes, and fake guns to successfully hold up a string of banks, making away with thousands of pounds. He attempted ten robberies in southwest England over a six-month period. Banknotes marked with “RH”—“Robin Hood”—began finding their way into the hands of the homeless. Motivated by a belief that global capitalism was ruining lives and driving the planet toward ecological disaster, he dreamed of changing the world for the better through his crimes. 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.
Acclaimed journalist Ben Machell had full and direct access to Stephen Jackley, who in turn shared his complete set of diaries, selections of which are included throughout the narrative. The result lends an intense intimacy and urgency to Jackley’s daring and disturbing tale, shedding light on his mental state and the challenges he faced in his own mind and beyond. It wasn’t until Jackley was held in custody that he underwent a psychiatric evaluation, resulting in a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.
Behind the simple act of bank robbery lies a complex and emotionally wrought story of an individual whose struggles led him to create a world in which he would succeed.
My thoughts: A book about a very unique individual named Steve Jackley who grows up in unusual circumstances. This is another book I had to “wish” for and was lucky enough to obtain. I became engrossed in his life of growing up in a tough situation in several ways. He grows up with a strong social conscience and wants to make a difference in the injustice of the huge gap between the haves and the have nots. I found this to be quite an amazing story. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Ben Machell, and the publisher.
Publisher: Ballantine Books – 288 pages
Publication: Jan 19th, 2021
My rating: 4/5 STARS
About the author– Ben Machell is a feature writer for The Times and The Times Magazine and a contributor to publications He has been shortlisted for Feature Writer of the Year at the British Press Awards. Ben has full and exclusive access to Stephen Jackley and his surviving diaries, as well as access to law enforcement and the key characters involved in Jackley’s story on both sides of the Atlantic.