J.R. Moehringer captures America's first celebrity gangster without firing a shot
Award-winning actress, comedian, author, and entrepreneur Kirstie Alley took the stage last year at the 2012 BookExpo America trade show to introduce bestselling author (The Tender Bar) and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist J.R. Moehringer and his first novel, Sutton (Hyperion; May, 2013), a dramatic telling of the life and times of America's first celebrity gangster, the 'freakishly prolific' bank robber, Willie Sutton, 'the Ghandi of gangsters' because he allegedly never fired a shot, and charter member of the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Moehringer's extensive research eventually led him to the story of an amateur detective named Arnie Schuster, who in addition to being a distant cousin of a founder of the Simon & Schuster publishing empire, had spotted Willie Sutton on a subway and then been gunned down outside his home nineteen days later in a mafia execution that came full circle to Moehringer's own mother five years later. In 1957,Moehringer told the audience of booksellers, authors, and publishing execs, Arnie Schuster's killer was himself executed gangster-style in a barber shop next door to where Moehringer's mother happened to be working as a secretary. Moehringer wrapped with a comparison of novel writing to skydiving, when it comes time to jump and trust in your parachute.
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