Richard Rayner had a peripatetic childhood, and it seemed he found some sense of place when he attended Cambridge University. The study of philosophy combined with an obsession with books, however, served as the catalyst for a bizarre life of crime. Mounting debts propelled the author into a series of adventures, as he plundered bookstores for elusive first editions, forged checks, and acted as an accomplice in a Keystone Kops-like attempted bank robbery.
In a memoir that's "compelling, edgy, painfully alive" (Times Literary Supplement), like "stripped-down Dostoevsky" (Time), this is the personal story, both tragic and comic, of an absence of identity and a long checkered past of crimes and misdemeanors.
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