Thomas Goodman of Austin has penned an excellent novel, The Last Man, based on the famous Santa Claus bank robbery in Cisco in 1927.
Goodman will be at Texas Star Trading Company on Friday, October 6, from 2-3:30 p.m. to sign copies of the book ($16.99 paperback).
Led by a former Cisco resident dressed as Santa Claus to hide his identity, the four-man gang invaded First National Bank in Cisco on Dec. 23, 1927, with a seemingly fool-proof plan. But everything that could possibly go wrong, did.
The men barely escaped with a bag of money amid a fusillade of gunfire from alarmed and angry Cisco lawmen and citizens, only to discover that their getaway car was nearly out of gas. Two lawmen were killed, one of the four robbers suffered fatal wounds in the getaway, the other three were shot, one was captured right away, and the other two a few days later, and the money was quickly recovered.
The story has been told many times, especially by A.C. Greene in his heralded non-fiction account, The Santa Claus Bank Robbery (1972). But Thomas Goodman takes it to another level by focusing on what might have become of the four bank robbers. The fate of three of them were well-documented: one died from the shootout, one was executed, one was hung by a mob.
But what about the last man? Goodman makes him the central character in the story, and although this is a novel, the author did extensive research into what might have become of him – his trials, his escapes from prison, and his eventual…. well, you’ll have to read that for yourself.
At the end of the book, Goodman includes a helpful chapter, “Author’s Note – Fact and Fiction,” about the differences in his novel and the historical account.
“I had to devise the dialogue and motivations of the characters,” he writes, “but the robbery, the manhunt, the execution, the escapes, and the lynching follow the newspaper record” of legendary journalist Boyce House and accounts by noted Cisco historian J. W. Sitton as well as A.C. Greene.
If you’re interested in a really wacky bank robbery and the aftermath thereof — or just a weird moment in Texas history — you’ll zip through this book. And then you’ll want to give it to someone else of a like mind.
Call Texas Star at (325) 672-9696 for more information or to reserve an autographed copy of the book.