Sunday, August 2, 2009

Don't Call Me a Crook! by Bob Moore

Don't Call Me a Crook! is a memoir by the most unreliable of narrators. Despite not wanting to be called a crook, Bob Moore most certainly is one. An engineer by trade, his adventures take him all over the world where he finds himself "swiping" anything from diamonds to cash to a Shriner's sword. Moore's twenties really roared, and his experiences paint a picture of an era when lawlessness was a way of life. Bob's adventures take him to New York where he rips off a smuggler's diamonds, to Chicago where he cons a gullible woman out of her diamond ring, to a party yacht on the Long Island Sound, to South America where he makes off with funds given him for a supposed business start up, and even to China where the lawlessness seems to shock even him. There is no doubt that Bob Moore was a product of his time and had the experiences to prove it, but well, actually, there is some doubt, at least in my mind, about whether the stories he tells are true. After all, the very life he chronicles gives us reason to question everything he says. How can you trust the storytelling of a guy who gets by on lies and dishonest gain?

Whether it's true or not, though, Don't Call Me a Crook! is a rollicking adventure. While Moore's style of writing is a little stilted and hard to read, his tale is full of action and what seems like a particularly honest and unflinching view at the 20s. Few pages go by where Moore isn't getting into or getting out of some trouble. Admittedly, Moore's routine of getting "oiled" (drunk) and making trouble can get redundant, but at other times his experiences are laugh out loud funny. It's a bit like listening to your crazy old uncle tell stories after he's had a few, that is, if you have a crazy old uncle or someone of that sort. I found the middle section about his time on a party yacht with some stingy millionaires and their wild sons to be particularly enjoyable. The pages in this section flew by, but his time in China was a bit more of struggle to read given the daily atrocities and disregard for human life he witnessed and occasionally even perpetrated himself.

All in all I found Don't Call Me a Crook! to be an interesting and amusing memoir. Reading Moore's memoir certainly gives us a hardy sampling of what life could be like in 1920s in a variety of locations. Moore is unapologetic about his thoughts and actions, and so emerges a memoir that, even if not entirely true, still offers an unvarnished and often surprisingly honest-seeming look at life during quite a wild time in our history.

Thanks to Lisa at Online Publicist for providing me with a review copy.

Read other reviews at:

Books I Done Read
Things Mean a Lot
Bookfoolery and Babble


  1. The reviews for this one seem to be all over the place, so I can't decide if I want to read it or not. When I meet people like this in real life, I generally try to avoid them.

  2. Great review, Megan. Like Kathy, I've read both positive and negative reviews of this one. It does sound interesting.

  3. I think I'd probably have enjoyed this more if I'd read it at another time. As it was, I wound up getting tired of it about halfway through. I'm glad you enjoyed it, though!

  4. Bermuda - your comment made me laugh out loud. I think if I came across this guy in real life I'd try to avoid him too, though he was kind of interesting to read about!

    LF - Thanks. There were parts of it I liked and parts of it I really didn't, so I actually ended up neither loving nor hating it. So, it seems I find things to agree with in both the negative and the positive reviews.

    Nymeth - Yeah, it dragged for me after awhile, too. After the yacht part, I started losing interest. His time in China was a bit too disturbing at times and I started finding the book easier and easier to put down once it got to that part.

  5. I could see enjoying this one for maybe the first fifty pages, but I fear I might tire of it after a bit. But as always, I definitely enjoyed reading your review!