Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. with Stan Redding

"Catch Me If You Can." The title conveys perfectly the tone of the novel I had the pleasure of reading. It’s taunting yet playful, light-hearted and diabolically clever. It’s the story of one Frank Abagnale Jr., a con artist who stole millions of dollars, posed as an airline pilot, a doctor for under a year, and a lawyer all the while being wanted in 26+ countries…all before he was 21. Impressive, no? Yeah, I know. He’s a criminal, tsk tsk, shame on him and what not. However, I can’t help but feel some sort of affection towards a criminal such as he. After all, in the grand scheme of things, there is evil out there much worse than a check fraud.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. If a reader can’t appreciate the sheer genius behind his stint, I’m not sure how to respond. For example, a fake check had his real name and address on the back (since of course he was using an alias). He cashes the check then realizes the mistake afterwards. His plan was to go back and state that the “paycheck” had been in a mistaken amount and he should never have cashed it and can he please have it back please? However, the FBI had already been notified of the fake check and was on their way. Instead of bailing out right there and then, he poses as an FBI agent, makes a copy of the front of the check to maintain his facade (the side without the writing) and departs with the incriminating check as “evidence.” Five minutes later, a very frustrated, very real FBI agent walks in the bank.

It’s an addicting thrill ride to read and I found it very difficult to put down. It’s a quick read because of this, and I was sad to see it end. The commentary and narration is entertaining and has the quality of letting you in on the joke so I found myself elated when he pulled off a risky stunt and panicked when the FBI showed up to spoil the fun. Of course, what fun would it be without an adversary? The real irony is that Abagnale Jr. has made millions designing security protocol for checks, banks, and the like. If a truly fun read is what you seek, then look no further. 4 stars. ****

Review by Alisa Heskin

Also check out the movie adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio who does a solid job as the mastermind himself.
As it were, it seems that White Collar, a new original on USA, has taken a similar premise from Catch Me If You Can.

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