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Reviewed by Raanan Geberer for Readers' Favorite
During the early 1930s, machine gun-toting bank robbers like John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde terrorized the American Midwest and Southwest. But there were plenty of smaller fry, too. Meet Me in Tulsa by Christopher Davis describes two hardened criminals, Atlee Dodge and “Ugly Elmer” Johnson, who have just gotten out of prison in Jefferson City, Missouri. Johnson, the older of the two, is the mastermind, while Dodge is the willing pupil. While planning a bank job of their own, they decide to go for some easy money by knocking over a couple of illegal gin mills. However, in the course of the robberies, they kill several people, and Dodge and Johnson know that if the law ever catches them, they’ll “ride the lightning” for sure. On top of it all, Dodge has fallen for a “dame” — a German waitress from a speakeasy.
Meet Me in Tulsa has a very easy, readable style that keeps the reader interested and keeps the action moving along. Christopher Davis really “gets” the period and the locale, and shows us how these types of criminals had to keep moving from one state to another to keep one step ahead of the law. The scene in which they visit a shady back alley gun salesman and buy a Browning Automatic and a Thompson Sub-Machine gun is classic, and shows how some things haven’t changed. One question that Davis doesn’t attempt to answer is whether there was any relationship between the bank robbers and the organized crime figures of the era, like Al Capone or Lucky Luciano. But that’s neither here nor there. As far as I’m concerned, if you like reading about crime in the 1930s or watching movies like Scarface, White Heat or Bonnie and Clyde, you’ll love Meet Me in Tulsa.