Canongate snaps up Times journalist Ben Machell's debut

Canongate snaps up Times journalist Ben Machell's debut

Canongate will publish Times journalist Ben Machell's non-fiction debut about convicted robber Stephen Jackley next year.

Simon Thorogood, editorial director at Canongate, has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Machell's first book, The Unusual Suspect, from Richard Pike at C+W. 

The Unusual Suspect is the incredible true story of Stephen Jackley, a young British student whose fixation with Robin Hood and anger at the unfolding global financial crisis led to a barely believable run of bank heists in a misguided attempt to give back to the poor,” Canongate said.

“Based on exclusive interviews and extensive research, Ben will recount Jackley’s remarkable journey from impassioned student to eventual incarceration with some of the most dangerous convicts in the US, via elaborately planned bank robberies, car chases, flawed escape attempts, comic mishaps, heart-breaking tragedy, and unlikely friendships with a wonderfully diverse cast of characters.”

Canongate will publish in May 2020.

Machell said: “I’m delighted to be working with Canongate on a story I’ve been obsessed with from the moment I first heard of it. After tracking Stephen down and interviewing him for the Times in 2016, this obsession only deepened. Since then, with the help of American federal agents, British police detectives, psychiatrists, prison officers and dozens of others, not least Stephen himself, I have been piecing together a picture of a life and of a chain of events I could never have imagined.”

Thorogood added: “Both a fast-paced, page-turning true crime story and a modern-day morality play, The Unusual Suspect has it all. With its themes of corporate greed, crime, punishment and mental health, this is a book I know readers will love.”

A feature writer and columnist for the Times, Machell has worked for the newspaper since 2005. He writes a weekly column for the Evening Standard's ES Magazine, and has written for publications such as Vice and Esquire.