Dont Call Me a Crook!: A Scotsmans Tale of World Travel, Whisky, and Crime
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It is a pity there are getting to be so many places that I can never go back to, but all the same, I do not think it is much fun a man being respectable all his life. Thus begins "Don't Call Me a Crook!", a memoir of a 1920's youth thoroughly, noisily and lawlessly lived. Bob Moore, a Glaswegian, was a marine engine, occasional building superintendent and ramblin' man. "I have been round the world seven times, and I have been shipwrecked three times, and I have spent GBP100,000" Moore boasts. In "Don't Call Me", he recounts pitched battles with Chinese bandits, life in gangster-infested Chicago, and decadent orgies aboard a millionaire's yacht. This is a hardboiled-noir memoir. It's picaresque, perverse, and darkly funny. A tribute to one man's triumph over the law, morals and sobriety, it's a lost confession that will be crowned a classic.
Bob Moore learned some engineering skills at a young age when he attempted to enlist but was too young. Instead, he was put on a ship and became an engineering apprentice. These skills allowed him to take various jobs throughout his life. As Moore goes from Europe to Canada to the USA to China, he cons anyone he can to get more money for the next leg of his journey. He even sends his wife back to Scotland, with his child and doesn't seem to give his family another thought. This includes working on a millionaire's yacht, helping a friend come illegally in to the USA from Canada, and working on an oil boat travelling in China.
The book is a page turner simply because you wonder what situation Moore is going to get in to next. Yet there is no possible way you can finish this book liking him. He is a thief who attempts to justify his crimes by saying he only swipes from people that deserve it (a lonely woman on a train deserves it?). He is an egotist in that he thinks he is much kinder to people than he should be (stealing from people is a kind act?). The worst thing to call him? A murderer! He admits to crimes of murder throughout his book or manslaughter at the very least.
Regardless of the lack of morals from the Moore, the book is still quite interesting. It gives you a good picture of what life was like in a variety of cultures in the early 1900s.