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Brief Reviews
by Robin Britt

ANYONE INTERESTED in outrageously improbable true-crime opuses should enjoy Greg Weston`s The Stopwatch Gang (Macmillan, 361 pages, $27.95 cloth), which chronicles the adventures of a remarkably engaging trio of criminals Patrick Mitchell, Stephen Reid, and Lionel Wright aren`t the sort of people you`d want your kids coming home with, but they do possess a certain je ne sais quoi: rob and swindle though they might, they kept the violence to a minimum - no messy hostagetaking here - and gave up gracefully when cornered by the law. Why worry, after all, when you were part of a gang that broke out of jail and into money vaults with the same seasoned adeptness? Weston relates these exciting events with appropriate literary finesse, as he uses jump cuts, freeze frames, and fast forwards to structure a narrative that cries out for film treatment. There are some plummy roles for the taking here, too, particularly those of Mitchell and Reid: Tom Selleck would make a dandy "Paddy" Mitchell, Irish charm and all, and as for Stephen Reid ... well, he might as well be played by Stephen Reid, now married to Susan Musgrave and by all accounts still as free a spirit as ever. All law-enforcement personnel, however, will have to resign themselves to bit parts, since it was their extraordinary collective ineptitude that helped to make the Stopwatch Gang a longrunning hit on the FBI`s "America`s Most Wanted" list. If this all sounds a tad too light and cavalier, that`s because both Weston and his subjects rarely let seriousness interfere with their penchant for good times and good tales. The Stopwatch Gang is chock full of both, and although it may well shock and appal the rigidly moral, just about everyone else should enjoy this raucous and ripping yam.

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