Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubinstein
The delightfully-told tale of a whiskey-addled hockey player/bank robber who became a Hungarian folk hero in the 1990s.
I was truly doubtful I’d like this book, which was chosen by our book club, but by halfway through I was reasonably engrossed with the story. For me as a reader, the thing that made this book work was Rubinstein’s writing, which is pretty darn snappy and smart.
Also, it’s the kind of story that’s almost too weird to be true—which is exactly how you *know* it’s true.
Attila (I’m serious—that’s the guy’s name) sneaked across the border from Romania to Hungary, started smuggling pelts, played hockey on a pro team (but was never paid for doing so), and took to robbing banks while wearing ridiculous wigs. Then he’d go spend the stolen money on extravagances and have to rob another bank.
Hungary during those years doesn’t sound like an easy place to live, so no wonder people tuned in to hear about his escapades and considered him a Robin Hood type of hero. (Though, guys! He kept all the money for himself and went scuba diving!)
Kudos to Rubinstein for making even this here curmudgeonly firstborn rule-follower feel a little tiny bit sympathetic toward the (anti-)hero.