Novel: “Prince of Thieves” (aka The Town)

Whenever I see an interesting trailer for a film based on a novel, I like to read the book before the movie comes out – because I generally enjoy novels more than films.  The last time I did this was with Shutter Island, and man oh man, I was glad I did because the book was unpretentious fun while the movie was an overblown bore.

So I’ve really been liking the trailers for The Town, an upcoming film written, directed by and starring Ben Affleck.  It’s based on a novel by Chuck Hogan called Prince of Thieves.  Masked bank robber takes a girl hostage, then comes back into her life and falls in love with her without telling her who he is.

Listen.  This is a knock-out book.  Really.  If you like crime fiction, or any fiction, buy this, read it.  It’s a beauty.  Great prose – terrific prose.  Good characters, expertly drawn.  Powerful plot.  Just all around top-notch stuff.  I’d put it with The Secret History, A Simple Plan and The Ice Harvest as being among the best recent crime novels that for some inexplicable reason were not written by me.

I look forward to the movie too.  Laugh if you will, but I think Affleck is a really talented guy who sort of short-circuited his career with bad onscreen choices and off-screen silliness.  He did a good job directing Gone, Baby, Gone and I’ve never forgotten his wonderfully charismatic performance in one of my favorite movies Shakespeare in Love.   He’s perfect for the lead in this and I’m eager to see it.  But I’m telling you:  read the book first.

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  • Debra King

    I was thrilled to see a mention of The Secret History. One of my all-time favorite books. Have you by chance a post about that book? I will definitely check out Prince of Thieves. I rarely read fiction anymore, but I recently read Empire of Lies and was so enthralled with this book that I look forward now to reading a bit more fiction. It is a welcome break from reading political, cultural and economic subjects. Thank you for your fine blog Mr. Klavan!

  • Mark Kirby

    May I second your call on Affleck in “Shakespeare in Love,” and maybe raise you? I enjoyed the movie, but his was the only performance that convinced me I was watching a real human being; and I took a mean delight in seeing an American giving the Brits an acting lesson. The others struck me as doing entertaining stage turns. Fine in their place and fine for the movie, but when an actor gets to the third dimension, it’s a finer thing still.

  • Ellen

    I liked Affleck in Hollywoodland very much. Not the movie so much, but he was really good. I’ll have to watch Shakespeare in Love again and pay more attention to him.

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