In the spring of 1966 Ken Leishman stepped onto the tarmac of the Winnipeg Airport and into the pages of Canadian history. By then, the mastermind behind the country’s largest gold heist had already gained Dillingeresque notoriety as a gentlemanly bank robber. Toronto headlines had spread the news about the brazen and polite ‘Flying Bandit’. This time, he almost got away. Almost.
In Bandit: A Portrait of Ken Leishman, Wayne Tefs imagines what happened behind the headlines, intertwining the full-on action of Leishman’s exploits with the story of a smart but troubled kid growing up in a small and stifling prairie town.
As a married man and father of seven, Leishman dreams of greatness, and a good life for his family. Even as he plots the greatest caper in Canadian history, he is ridden with guilt over his failed promises to go straight. In this fictionalized version of a tremendous true story, readers will be hard-pressed to judge the life of this Canadian folk hero who dared to fly far out of bounds.
Bandit is a masterful portrait of a complex human being and of his time. It's also a powerful reminder that no place is beyond the reach of myth, and that any place, no matter how self-doubting, can and will mirror myth in its own way.
Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press
Reading Bandit does more than revive a lot of large headlines and any personal memories readers might have: Tefs's compelling portrait of Leishman (a faithful married man and father of seven) raises awkward questions about the misjudgments anyone can make in pursuit of the Canadian Dream...
The Globe and Mail
Runner-up for the 2011 Manitoba Reads
Short-listed for the 2011 McNally Robinson Book of the Year
Short-listed for the 2011 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
Turnstone Press acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council, the Government of Canada, and the Province of Manitoba through Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage.