Stephen G. Eoannou

Rook is based on the true story of Al Nussbaum. To his unsuspecting wife, Lolly, Al is a loving, chess playing, family man. To J. Edgar Hoover, he is the most cunning fugitive alive. Al is the mastermind behind a string of east coast robberies that has stumped law enforcement.

After his partner, one-eyed Bobby Wilcoxson, kills a bank guard and wounds a New York City patrolman, Al is identified as one of the robbers and lands on top of the FBI’s most wanted list. He is forced to flee his hometown of Buffalo, New York as the FBI closes in and Lolly learns of her husband’s secret life.

One million wanted posters are printed and The Reader’s Digest offers a ten-thousand-dollar reward for Al’s capture. While Al assumes another identity and attempts to elude the police, Lolly is left alone to care for their infant daughter and adjust to her new life as ‘The Bank Robber’s Wife’. Friends, family, and federal agents all pressure Lolly to betray Al.

While Lolly struggles at home financially, with unrelenting FBI agents, and her conscience, Al and Bobby continue to rob banks, even as Bobby grows more mentally unstable and dangerous. Al has only two goals: avoid capture and steal enough money to start a new life with his family. Returning to gather his wife and baby is suicidal, but as Al said, he’d only stick his neck in the Buffalo noose for Lolly. (Summary via Goodreads)

Rook by Stephen G. Eoannou will have readers unable to stop reading. As soon as you open the book you are lost in the story of Al, his partner in crime Bobby, his wife Lolly and the web of lies and secrets among them.

In Rook Al and Bobby along with Curry are bank robbers. Al is actually the brains behind the crime, planning and staking out the bank they will be hitting and then he sits in the getaway car while Bobby and Curry go inside the bank and rob it. Afterwards they get in the getaway car with Al driving and he drives them to safety where they count up the money and split it.

Al tells his wife Lolly that he is going away on a business trip with Bobby so that she knows nothing about the robberies. Lolly is left home living in the apartment above her parents raising their baby daughter Alison completely unaware of what Al does on these business trips.

All of that changes when during one of the robberies a security guard is killed and a police officer responding to the robbery is shot and injured. Soon after that Curry is caught and rats out the other two. It is right before Christmas and Lolly is snooping in the closet for her Christmas presents from Al and instead finds the duffel bag he hid that has the money from the last robbery along with a gun. That night he packs a bag and leaves with Bobby and his girlfriend leaving Lolly and Alison. Shortly after Al leaves the FBI shows up and questions Lolly all about Al but luckily for Al, she cannot tell them anything.

In the beginning of Rook readers get to know Al, Lolly and Bobby as the bank robberies are commited but when their identities are learned and they flee, the book changes into separate chapters dedicated to Al and Lolly and their lives of living apart. Lolly is left to try to deal with the fact that her husband, the father of her child, is a criminal….again. She had to move in with her parents and go out and get a job so that she can pay the bills and take care of her daughter. Al also has to adjust to living in a dingy apartment, hiding from the law, constantly living in fear of being caught.

Readers will love this story and wonder what in the story is real and what Eoannou has embellished. Readers may even find themselves feeling sorry for Al but especially for Lolly as she had to pick up the pieces of the mess Al left behind. And readers will have strong feelings of Lolly’s mother….but I will leave that to the reader.

I highly recommend grabbing your copy of Rook and getting lost in the story……

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