Not so wild about the criminals

The Barefoot
Bandit: The True Tale of Colton
Harris-Moore, New American Outlaw
by
Bob Friel
Since I’m no fan of true crime (it freaks me out*) and since I disdain books that take the side of the
bad guys, there’s no way I’d’ve read this book if it hadn’t been our book club
pick.
That having been said, this book actually kinda worked for me.
And here’s why:
First off, Friel is quite a nice writer. He’s a journalist, and I
just love the way journalists write books. His tone is conversational, which
makes the book’s words just glide easily past one’s eyes.
And despite my concerns that Friel would glorify the Barefoot
Bandit, he really doesn’t. He’s clearly somewhat sympathetic, particularly when
he learns about the kid’s horrible upbringing (if we can even call it that) by
an alcoholic mom. But Friel lives on Orcas
Island, so for him, it
started to feel way more personal because this stuff was happening on his turf.
Orcas was one of the earliest places Colt burgled and pulled some of his Goldilocks/home-invasion
stunts.
And that’s the part where I started to get ticked.
The guy was breaking into people’s houses and living there while
they were out of town. He was sleeping in their beds and eating their cereal!
This really pushes my buttons.
And then, he did even worse things. He stole—and crashed—people’s
airplanes.
This is truly Not OK in
my worldview.
Sure, yeah, it was amazing that he could fly at all, given his
complete lack of flight training. And I empathize with his yearning to fly. But
still. I Am Honked Off that that guy ripped off people’s airplanes!
So, yeah. He violated two of the most sacred spaces one can claim:
home and aircraft. So I was like, yeah, go capture that guy and Lock.Him.Up.
So they did (the capture actually felt somewhat anti-climactic,
despite the fact that it happened onboard a boat in the Bahamas), and now he’s in jail
until he turns 26. Again, not very satisfying.
OK. So, the book. It started to feel a little bit too long, though
I honestly don’t know where to recommend any editing. I think the story just
dragged on too long, because the guy evaded capture for so long.
But overall, the story was surprisingly captivating. Back when
Colt was Bandit-ing, I didn’t pay too much attention, so most of the story was
news to me. And Friel’s writing style is sufficiently engaging that the book
was sometimes hard to put down.
For this true-crime-phobic reader, this book’s a success.

* I read this book only during daylight hours, and never after dinner.
Not because it’s a scary or freaky book, but because I am just that weirded out
about true crime.


by

Reader, librarian, & happy little geek

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