The Right Way to Do Wrong: An Exposé of Successful Criminals by Harry Houdini
In our modern world, filled with fiction about profiling and forensics, The Right Way to Do Wrong is pretty tame. It’s filled with wink-nudge morality. Over and over, Houdini emphasizes the “crime doesn’t pay” line, while never really delving into why criminals do what they do. That’s not the purview of this book.
As for “expose,” it’s not really that either. The details of various crimes are shallow and aimed at what the common citizen might do to protect themselves, which isn’t much. In fact, I really got the feeling that Houdini enjoyed pointing out what hapless victims we all can be, criminals as well as patsies. There’s a certain glee in the writing as he points out that the guy that might bump into you while waiting you’re for the train is probably a pickpocket and that the shutters on your windows are pretty much useless. The best anecdote in the book involved a thief that goes to great measures to break into a jewelry store, overcoming every lock and barrier, only to be thwarted by no merchandise being on the premises. And then he’s caught while escaping! As I said, we’re all hapless.
The Right Way to Do Wrong isn’t without charm, is a quick read, and provides a glimpse into the world of crime, circa 1905.
Format: Google Book (scanned, poorly)
Procurement: Google Books