My 6 Favorite Caper/Heist Books, Movies, and TV Shows
By day I’m a mild-mannered high school English teacher with a wife and four kids. But in an alternate reality, I’m a suave jewel thief or well-mannered con man, cleverly stealing treasures and fortunes from underneath the noses of society’s worst citizens. I mean, let’s be honest--books have movies have done a great job romanticizing crime, especially when it comes to showing ensemble casts relying on their wits to pull off complicated heists. And me, I’ve bought in completely. Now am I really going to rob a bank or steal the crown jewels? Not likely, nor would I tell you if I was. But I live vicariously write about such things and did in my novel Don't Get Caught, using teenagers to execute intricate pranks and capers in their school. During the writing of the novel, I revisited many of my favorite caper and heist stories for inspiration. Here are a few of my favorites.
Film: Ocean’s Eleven
If you don’t have a lot of experience with heist films/books, then this is where you start. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and nine others conspire to rip off three casinos in one night. Suspenseful, funny, and just downright cool, you’ll watch this and start planning your own bank robbery. The sequels are just as cool and fun, but neither matches the awesomeness of this first film.
Novel: Heist Society by Ally Carter
Ally Carter has written a pure heist novel here. The set-up is simple: Kat has two weeks to put together a crew to steal back the paintings her father is accused of heisting, or he’ll be killed. The characters in this novel each have specific jobs, there’s a clear target and motivation, and it all goes wrong pretty quickly as it should. Throw in a little romance, the presence of real danger, and some hilarity, and you have the perfect gateway drug into heist novels.
TV Show: Leverage
This TV show is one of my favorite things in the entire world, and shockingly I wasn’t aware of it until I was finishing Don't Get Caught. In each episode, a mastermind, a thief, a grifter, a thug, and a techno geek right wrongs for people in need. How can you not love a show with the tagline: “Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys.” It’s sooo much fun. The series lasted five seasons and is available on Netflix. Some of the most fun you can have binge watching.
Novel: Con Academy by Joel Schreiber
Joel Schreiber’s novels are some of the smartest, high-octaned, fun reads out there. In Con Academy, Will and Andrea, two con artists attending the same private school, agree to a contest to see who can scam a designated mark out of fifty thousand dollars. The loser has to leave the school forever. Fast-paced and filled with humor and twists, Schreiber’s novel, like his others, doesn’t disappoint.
Film/Novel: The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton
This was my initiation into the heist genre, courtesy of my oldest brother. Set in 1855 England, this is based on the true story of Edward Pierce and Robert Agar scheming to rob a train of its shipment of gold. Along the way they must steal a series of keys, deal with double-crosses, and outsmart authorities who have been tipped off to the caper. Not only a great book, but also a great movie, which is directed by Crichton as well. Filled with fun con man terms and language, this is one of those books you just feel smarter after you finish.
One of my favorite all-time movies. Robert Redford leads a team of specialists who are hired by companies to test their security systems. After successfully stealing a device for the government under threat of arrest, Redford and his team realize they’ve been lied to, and must steal back the machine which they discover is capable of breaking any encryption. What makes this film great is the odd cast of characters: the blind computer expert, the conspiracy nut, the ex-CIA agent, and in one of his final films, River Phoenix as a young genius. The film has a wonderful sense of humor and a clever, twisting plot.
About the Author
About the BookKurt Dinan has taught high school English for over twenty-one years, and while he’s never pulled any of the pranks detailed in this novel, he was once almost arrested in college for blizzarding the campus with fliers promoting a fake concert. He lives and works in the suburbs of Cincinnati with his wife and his four children he affectionately refers to as “the Crime Spree.” Don’t Get Caught is his first novel.
10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. —Chaos ClubWhen Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he’s Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He’s Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it’s also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust…Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students—who also received invites—are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security “catches” them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It’s time for Rule #7: Always get payback.Let the prank war begin.Oceans 11 meets The Breakfast Club in this entertaining, fast-paced debut filled with pranks and cons that will keep readers on their toes, never sure who’s pulling the strings or what’s coming next.