Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid

Rip-roaring account of the Jazz Age’s most-feared gangster couple.

Before infamous criminal lovebirds Bonnie and Clyde, there were Richard “Candy Kid” and Margaret (“Tiger Girl” Whittemore, whose big-city jewel heists and bank robberies made the Barrow Gang’s stickups look like candy snatching in comparison. In his latest, journalist and sportswriter Stout raises his game a notch, transitioning from quaint sports history books to this true-crime barn burner, set against the backdrop of a post–World War I America rolling in wealth and prosperity. “Bank vaults were full and brimming over,” writes the author, “and all the businesses that catered to this newfound wealth—the jewelers and furriers and night clubs and jazz joints and new car lots—were raking it in by the fistful.” Both brought up in Baltimore with virtually no economic prospects, Richard and Margaret married young and faced uncertain futures, with Richard engaging in petty thefts that saw him in and out of prison with not much to show for it. However, it wasn’t long before he began making powerful contacts in the criminal underworld and attempting more formidable crime sprees—with his wife by his side. The couple moved from Baltimore to more cosmopolitan climes like Philadelphia and New York, working within a criminal syndicate robbing banks or staging jewelry heists. As they found further success in the criminal game, they enjoyed a glamorous lifestyle of all-night parties, luxury apartments, and fast cars. However, Richard’s inevitable downfall came at the age of 25, when an informant turned him in. Stout’s fast-paced prose has a Mickey Spillane–like cadence to it that fits his subject matter perfectly. The narrative is unrelenting to the bitter end, when Richard had to confront the kind of forced early retirement that guys in his profession almost invariably faced.

 

Reviews

Rip-roaring account of the Jazz Age’s most-feared gangster couple… Stout’s fast-paced prose has a Mickey Spillane-like cadence to it that fits his subject matter perfectly… A compulsively readable criminal biography as well as a vivid cultural snapshot of early Prohibition-era America. – Kirkus Reviews

“Reported with a historian’s careful research and written with a novelist’s mastery of character and scene, Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid is a true-crime thriller embedded with a love story, set in the intoxicating glamour of the Roaring Twenties. A fast-paced, exhilarating read, the story unfolds like cinematic noir. This book deserves a place on the shelf next to Devil in the White City as a gem of true-crime narrative nonfiction.”– Kim Cross, New York Times best-selling author of What Stands in a Storm

“Straight out of Ben Hecht by way of Damon Runyon, Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid are the Adam and Eve of jazz-mad flappers and mad-dog killers. Avid and dynamic, this is Glenn Stout at his storytelling best, delivering a meticulous history with a kick like bathtub gin: Of a man and a woman fallen at the founding of modern America – that revved-up white-hot electric-chair America of sensational tabloid crime and smash-and-grab capitalism, of sudden money and sex and excess, reckless ambition and lies and violence, all of it spinning a blur – and woven now into the perfect book for our own roaring moment.” — Jeff MacGregor, Smithsonian Magazine

“Compared to Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid, Bonnie and Clyde were pikers. The original gangster couple was more ruthless, more captivating, and far more clever, the inspiration for the gangster movies made in their wake. As you read Stout’s deeply researched, fast-moving account – covering a multi-year crime spree, courtroom dramas, and an unexpected denouement — you’ll keep asking yourself: why hadn’t I heard of them before? If Tiger Girl and Candy Kid doesn’t become a blockbuster movie, Hollywood is broken.”– John U. Bacon, bestselling author of The Great Halifax Explosion

“It’s strange what we forget. Margaret and Richard Whittemore were Jazz Age icons, their gang’s jewel heists and bank robberies the stuff of bandit legend. Chased down by detectives and time, their love-and-crime story was lost to all but the Underworld–until Glenn Stout brought their exploits back to vivid life in this shining, meticulous book. In a way, Stout’s fine-eyed attention is one last score for Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid. Nobody knew better the value of a professional.”– Chris Jones, author of Out of Orbit

“Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid brings the Roaring Twenties to life. With his meticulous research and vivid writing, Glenn Stout captures the era’s perverse version of the American Dream, in all of its excesses and envy. Stout imbues century-old jewelry robberies with heart-stopping suspense. Beyond that, he shows how his protagonists birthed the archetypes of the bad boy gangster and the gun moll, and how the breathless coverage of their crimes created the true crime genre.”– Greg Hanlon, People

“This is a get-away car of a book — you dive in and hold on tight and trust the driver as the tires burn, the police sirens wail in the distance, and all that 1920s Americana rushes by outside.”– Ben Montgomery, author of Grandma Gatewood’s Walk and A Shot in the Moonlight

“[A] rollicking true crime tale…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.”– Publishers Weekly

“Stout brings the Whittemores and their era to vivid life in this engrossing biography… the story is romantic and violent, exhilarating and tragic… The Whittemores finally take their place in the pantheon of early-twentieth-century criminals.”– Booklist