Monday, December 19, 2022

The Heisters

Robert Page Jones (1931-2012) authored nine stories for Manhunt Magazine during the 1960s, including one in 1961 titled “The Big Haul.” The story was expanded into Jones’ first full-length novel, a 1963 Monarch Books paperback called The Heisters. The novel was adapted into a 1967 French film called That Man George (aka L’homme de Marrakech).

Johnny Womack is a truck driver headed from a long-haul home from El Centro, California with an empty load. This is problematic because he could really use some dough. His hot, faithless wife is home with god-knows-whom and the rent is overdue.

Mechanical troubles sideline Johnny in a small California desert town where a three-man heist crew are scheming and planning an armored car knock over. The armored vehicle delivers $750,000 cash to an Army base every two weeks, and it’s just begging to be taken by the right crew. If only the crew had a reliable truck driver to join the plunder squad…

To his credit, the author does an admirable job with character development. The reader gets to spend time with Johnny and the heisters to gauge everyone’s motivations. The heist itself is exciting and well-written, and the aftermath is worthy of Lionel White or Richard Stark. He throws in a great sequence involving an armored car security guard that will knock your socks off.

The aftermath of the heist and getaway has some fantastic unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming and kept me up late turning the pages. The ending violence of this short paperback is worthy of a Quentin Tarantino movie. I can honestly say that The Heisters is one of the finest hardboiled crime caper novels I’ve ever read. It’s never been reprinted, but you should definitely seek out a copy ASAP. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Aces review, Tom. Hopefully, the good folks at Stark House are reading this right now. The story was reprinted in Best of Manhunt 3 but the novel deserves to see the light of day again as well. Good job!