I took a deep dive into novels about heists, con artists, and other charismatic scoundrels this month. I think the Gentleman Bastards series got me into it. Or maybe it was that Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen were on Netflix, a series of movies that I like even though I feel as though I really shouldn’t.
But that just whetted my appetite for more crime novels, so I reread Michael Crichton’s old chestnut The Great Train Robbery
, which basically invented the trope that the Ocean’s films uses: The slow introduction of all of the confederates as the thieves assemble the team, the secrets kept from the audience until they are unveiled (and thus a surprise to the reader as much as the mark) during the pivotal scene, the slick, brilliant protagonist thieves.
I have not, however, seen any of the various films based on The Great Train Robbery.
I think, a decade ago, I watched the introduction to the one with Donald Sutherland but turned it off after that. I don’t feel a particular need to seek it out now…although I have been considering rewatching The Sting.
Is it the hazy morality of this genre that makes it feel like a guilty pleasure, the fact that we’re cheering for the bad guys? If that was all there was, I would get the same feeling when I watch The Sopranos or Breaking Bad, and I don’t. I certainly don’t regret spending most of the month on this particular sub-genre, but it’s curious to feel hesitant and, well, sorta guilty about recommending it.
Then again, I already recommended a lot of Star Wars novels, so it’s not as though I have any literary pretensions that this recommendation overturns. And I had a blast reading them, which is ultimately all I really care about.