• The Good: Two regular guys become small-time criminals
  • The Bad: Dated 1970’s sexism and racism
  • The Literary: Sets up the rules just to break them

Frank Ryan catches someone trying to steal a car from the used car lot where he works, and after some deliberation decides not to testify against the thief in court. Frank tracks the man down and convinces him to go into business together doing small-time crimes. Frank has it all figured out, and together they decide that the duo of Frank Ryan and Ernest “Stick” Stickley, Jr., will be polite on their jobs, treating their victims by being frank and earnest with them.

Frank considers himself the brains of the operation, and he always has a plan and a lot to say. The statistics prove that armed robbery pays the most for the least amount of risk. Guns are required, but so are his ten golden rules for not getting caught.

  1. Always be polite on the job and say please and thank you.
  2. Never say more than necessary. Less is more.
  3. Never call your partner by name, unless you use a made-up name.
  4. Never look suspicious or like a bum and dress well.
  5. Never use your own car.
  6. Never count the take in the car.
  7. Never flash money in a bar or with women.
  8. Never go back to an old bar or hangout once you have moved up.
  9. Never tell anyone your business and never tell a junkie even your name.
  10. Never associate with people known to be in crime.

Frank and Stick target bars, supermarkets, liquor stories, and gas stations, pulling in three to five thousand dollars a week. Every job is tense and exciting and successful, thanks to the ten rules. But soon enough, a chance for a bigger score is too tempting to pass up.

There’s something so enjoyable about reading the hijinks of two small-time criminals, especially the banter between the unlikely duo. They don’t complement each other so much as rub each other the wrong way. They definitely aren’t good guys, heroic in any sense, and as a reader it’s fun to see them do well, but also sort of satisfying to see them fail.

The story isn’t trying to be anything other than entertainment. It’s a seedy pulp crime novel that’s fun and enjoyable. The dated 1970’s attitudes towards women and minorities are uncomfortable, even though they are from the perspectives of these two ignorant men.

Recommended for fans of crime fiction and Tarantino-esque dialogue!