Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan
I haven't actually seen Gone, Baby, Gone, but I'm really looking forward to Ben Affleck's next directing effort, The Town. I haven't seen many of Affleck's movies but he's always seemed like a likable guy, and I've heard he is actually doing well with directing. I loved the novel Gone, Baby, Gone, so I figured even if he wasn't always good at picking scripts as an actor, he might be much better at picking novels with film potential as a director.
Prince of Thieves is the novel that The Town is based on, referring to Charlestown, the part of Boston where the Battle of Bunker Hill took place, and which later became known for its large population of bank robbers. While many of the characters in this novel will seem familiar, the book doesn't seem cliche. There is the close-knit group of high school friends, there is the driven, ambitious member of the law after them, the one member of the group that appears to be growing out of control while another is becoming weary of a life of crime and ready to move on. As I said, all more or less stock characters and story lines that have been done and seen dozens of times before. And even being able to guess what was going to happen due to the familiarity of these types of stories within film, books and television, it was still a great read. Despite being almost stereotypical characters, they seem real and developed.
The main character is Doug McRay, the brains of the operation among his four friends, and also the one who is reconsidering his life. The novel begins with a bank robbery, and after the robbery, Doug finds himself drawn to the bank manager, Claire Keesey. Claire isn't necessarily that fleshed out but she comes to represent a new life and a change to Doug. Given that he was already having doubts about his life, her kind of life is interesting to him, and as a result, he places more importance on her than he should after only a short time. He approaches her and begins seeing her after the robbery, while she is unaware of his real job. However, this relationship leads to conflict with his best friend, Jem, who becomes more and more out of control as the novel progresses.
I think this novel could definitely be a very good movie, and can't wait to see what Affleck does with it. One thing I am very curious about is the character Krista, portrayed by Blake Lively, who is about 16 years younger than Affleck. In the previews, before reading the novel, I was reading her as a young woman that was in love with McRay but whom McRay possibly saw as more of a little sister that he protected in the neighborhood. In the novel, however, they are about the same age (32), and have been off and on since high school. I'm interested to see if they are going to play Lively as an ex-flame, or if they are going to change the character due to the age difference. Now, I know this is Hollywood, so having the woman be that much younger is about normal, but it wasn't the intent in the novel.
Also, just a random side note, but I think it really is insane how a novel that is only fifteen years old can date itself simply by mentioning the internet - it wasn't a big thing at all and wasn't crucial to the novel, but it's just incredible and unbelievable how much that technology has progressed in such a short time. At one point, McRay also made a comment or reflected on the fact that bank robberies were becoming more difficult as society was becoming more and more cashless - many banks no longer had (and others soon no longer would have) a need to have a large amount of cash on hand. Frawley, the FBI agent, also lamented the fact that he was the last of his line as the future of financial crime was more likely to be identity theft than armed bank robbery.