Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid America's original gangster couple

Glenn Stout, 1958-

Book - 2021

"A thrilling Jazz Age chronicle of America's first gangster couple, Margaret and Richard Whittemore"--

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Subjects
Genres
Biography
Biographies
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2021.
Language
English
Physical Description
x, 368 pages, 8 unnumbered leaves of plates: illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 351-352) and index.
ISBN
9780358067771
0358067774
Main Author
Glenn Stout, 1958- (author)
  • Prologue: Particular People
  • Till death
  • A very accurate prediction
  • Easy meat
  • Unusual sacrifices
  • Tiger girl
  • Before heaven
  • A movie thriller
  • A great many good times
  • The usual route
  • King of this empty domain
  • In a rakish way
  • Candy kid dares chair for love
  • Not gonna burn alone
  • The tunnel of tears
  • Beware the verdict
  • A moral lesson
  • A gaudy show
  • Epilogue: Tribute of sorrow.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Veteran journalist Stout moves away from his usual sports beat (The Selling of the Babe, 2016), among many other titles) to tell the tale of Richard Whittemore and Margaret Messler, Jazz Age crooks, bank robbers, and murderers—the flapper and her man. A decade before Bonnie and Clyde, the Whittemores, who married in 1921 after they experienced working-class Baltimore childhoods, were yearning for bigger lives. They found those lives, at least for a while, leading a gang of jewelry thieves who stole millions before being apprehended and becoming tabloid heroes to readers who embraced the media-created saga of star-crossed romance. Stout brings the Whittemores and their era to vivid life in this engrossing biography. Based primarily on contemporaneous newspaper reports (the Whittemores have barely been touched on in books), the story is romantic and violent, exhilarating and tragic. Stout has clearly done a ton of research on the period, and he's really captured the unique combination of prosperity and desperation that was the Roaring Twenties. The Whittemores finally take their place in the pantheon of early-twentieth-century criminals. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Veteran journalist Stout moves away from his usual sports beat (The Selling of the Babe, 2016), among many other titles) to tell the tale of Richard Whittemore and Margaret Messler, Jazz Age crooks, bank robbers, and murderers—the flapper and her man. A decade before Bonnie and Clyde, the Whittemores, who married in 1921 after they experienced working-class Baltimore childhoods, were yearning for bigger lives. They found those lives, at least for a while, leading a gang of jewelry thieves who stole millions before being apprehended and becoming tabloid heroes to readers who embraced the media-created saga of star-crossed romance. Stout brings the Whittemores and their era to vivid life in this engrossing biography. Based primarily on contemporaneous newspaper reports (the Whittemores have barely been touched on in books), the story is romantic and violent, exhilarating and tragic. Stout has clearly done a ton of research on the period, and he's really captured the unique combination of prosperity and desperation that was the Roaring Twenties. The Whittemores finally take their place in the pantheon of early-twentieth-century criminals. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Stout (Young Women and the Sea) explores the dark underbelly of the Jazz Age through the lens of America's first gangster couple, Margaret and Richard Whittemore. The press deemed Margaret "Tiger Girl" for her criminal participation (considered unusual for a woman) and ferocity in defending her husband; Richard's smooth-talking reputation garnered him the nickname "Candy Kid." Through newspaper research, Stout tells the story of the criminal couple time forgot and fashions them as the original Bonnie and Clyde. Born in Baltimore, the young and poor Whittemores quickly learned vast wealth did not often come legally. They teamed up with figures Whittemore met during stints in prison to create one of the first and most successful criminal syndicates of the 1920s, committing jewel heists, robberies, burglaries, and eventually murder in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Buffalo, and Cleveland until they were finally caught and tried in the mid-1920s. At times, Stout's writing suffers from purple prose and focuses much more on the Candy Kid than the Tiger Girl. Despite a slow start, however, the narrative picks up around the middle and ends with a flourish. VERDICT Those interested in tales of white-collar crime and 20th-century history will be pleased.—Jessica Hilburn, Benson Memorial Lib., Titusville, PA Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Journalist Stout (Fenway 1912) puts the illicit exploits of jewel thieves Richard "Candy Kid" Whittemore and Margaret "Tiger Girl" Messler in the context of the Jazz Age in this rollicking true crime tale. Noting that the U.S. endured one of its sharpest economic downturns in the years after WWI, Stout describes the couple's working-class childhoods in Baltimore and their 1921 marriage ("like so many of their age, all they wanted to be was something other than what they were"). A juvenile delinquent, Whittemore enlisted in the Coast Guard at age 16, was dishonorably discharged, and ended up in prison for breaking into a house eight days after his wedding to Margaret. When he got out, he formed a gang and robbed jewelry stores in New York City, netting upwards of $300,000 per heist. (Margaret often cased the places before the break-ins.) When they were caught and put on trial in 1926, Stout writes, thousands of flappers and wannabe gangsters gathered outside the courthouse to support the couple. Stout colorfully evokes the era's political issues and cultural trends, and describes how Prohibition increased disrespect for the law across American society. This snappy page-turner informs and delights. (Mar.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A thrilling Jazz Age chronicle of America's first gangster couple, Margaret and Richard Whittemore"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The author of Young Woman and the Sea presents the story of Jazz-Age gangsters Margaret and Richard Whittemore, describing how their murderous pursuit of the American Dream was shaped by historical events and tabloid sensationalism. 25,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The true Jazz Age tale of America’s first gangster couple, Margaret and Richard Whittemore

Before Bonnie and Clyde there were Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid. In the wake of world war, a pandemic, and an economic depression, Margaret and Richard Whittemore, two love-struck working-class kids from Baltimore, reached for the dream of a better life. The couple headed up a gang that in less than a year stole over one million dollars’ worth of diamonds and precious gems—over ten million dollars today.
 
Margaret was a chic flapper, the archetypal gun moll, partner to her husband’s crimes. Richard was the quintessential bad boy, whose cunning and violent ambition allowed the Whittemores to live the kind of lives they'd only seen in the movies. Along the way he killed at least three men, until prosecutors managed a conviction. As tabloids across the country exclaimed the details of the couple’s star-crossed romance, they became heroes to a new generation of young Americans who sought their own version of freedom.
 
Set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties’ excesses, acclaimed author Glenn Stout takes us from the jailhouse to the speakeasy, from the cabarets where the couple celebrated good times to the gallows where their story finally came to an end—leaving Tiger Girl pining for a final kiss. Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid is a thrilling tale of rags to riches, tragedy and infamy.
 

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The true Jazz Age tale of America's first gangster couple, Margaret and Richard Whittemore

Review by Publisher Summary 5

The true Jazz Age tale of America’s first gangster couple, Margaret and Richard Whittemore

Review by Publisher Summary 6

The true Jazz Age tale of America’s first gangster couple, Margaret and Richard Whittemore

Before Bonnie and Clyde there were Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid. In the wake of world war, a pandemic, and an economic depression, Margaret and Richard Whittemore, two love-struck working-class kids from Baltimore, reached for the dream of a better life. The couple headed up a gang that in less than a year stole over one million dollars’ worth of diamonds and precious gems—over ten million dollars today.
 
Margaret was a chic flapper, the archetypal gun moll, partner to her husband’s crimes. Richard was the quintessential bad boy, whose cunning and violent ambition allowed the Whittemores to live the kind of lives they'd only seen in the movies. Along the way he killed at least three men, until prosecutors managed a conviction. As tabloids across the country exclaimed the details of the couple’s star-crossed romance, they became heroes to a new generation of young Americans who sought their own version of freedom.
 
Set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties’ excesses, acclaimed author Glenn Stout takes us from the jailhouse to the speakeasy, from the cabarets where the couple celebrated good times to the gallows where their story finally came to an end—leaving Tiger Girl pining for a final kiss. Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid is a thrilling tale of rags to riches, tragedy and infamy.
 

Review by Publisher Summary 7

The true Jazz Age tale of America's first gangster couple, Margaret and Richard Whittemore Before Bonnie and Clyde there were Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid. In the wake of world war, a pandemic, and an economic depression, Margaret and Richard Whittemore, two love-struck working-class kids from Baltimore, reached for the dream of a better life. The couple headed up a gang that in less than a year stole over one million dollars' worth of diamonds and precious gems'over ten million dollars today.   Margaret was a chic flapper, the archetypal gun moll, partner to her husband's crimes. Richard was the quintessential bad boy, whose cunning and violent ambition allowed the Whittemores to live the kind of lives they'd only seen in the movies. Along the way he killed at least three men, until prosecutors managed a conviction. As tabloids across the country exclaimed the details of the couple's star-crossed romance, they became heroes to a new generation of young Americans who sought their own version of freedom.   Set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties' excesses, acclaimed author Glenn Stout takes us from the jailhouse to the speakeasy, from the cabarets where the couple celebrated good times to the gallows where their story finally came to an end'leaving Tiger Girl pining for a final kiss. Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid is a thrilling tale of rags to riches, tragedy and infamy.