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Bill Walker
Starring...John Dillinger
Bill Walker, author

When Dillinger surrenders outside the Biograph Theatre and goes to jail after a sensational trial, J. Edgar Hoover thinks he’s won; and then Dillinger decides to make a film in jail telling the kids of America to fly straight. Hoover can't resist the relish of such a film's propaganda value. He convinces Jack Warner to make the film. When Warner views the finished film, he sees dollar signs and pulls every string he can grab to get Dillinger a pardon, and puts the former outlaw under contract. Dillinger replaces Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest and becomes the toast of Hollywood. Hoover is livid, vowing to see Dillinger dead once and for all. He assigns a reluctant Melvin Purvis to the Los Angeles office under orders to watch the outlaw night and day. Will Dillinger’s star continue to rise, or will Hoover and his minions put him six feet under?

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.75 out of 10


Plot: This new angle on what might have happened if John Dillinger hadn't been killed in 1934 is an attention-grabber. It has a wonderful opening, penned by the girl who met the charming bank robber and commented that he looked like a movie star, seeding the idea in his smart, creative mind. This is an enjoyable romp through 1930s Hollywood and its stars, with the looming threat of J. Edgar Hoover adding to the fast pace.

Prose/Style: The prose carries the plot like a fine wardrobe makes the man. Fine-tuned details of the era enhance the reading experience.

Originality: This entirely unique take on a famous gangster's change of mind is so well crafted that disbelief can be set aside.

Character Development: The cast of characters begins with an engaging look at an admirable newsman and his daughter, and then moves on to fully believable personalities of Dillinger, Hoover, and special agent Melvin Purvis. All characters are fully dimensional.

Date Submitted: May 24, 2019