Updated: Apr 28, 2019
Based on Frank Abagnale Jr.’s real life experiences, Catch Me if You Can is claimed to be the “true story of a real fake.” Frank Abagnale Jr. posed as an airline pilot, a lawyer, a corrections officer, and a doctor during his time as a con man. He swindled people out of their money and connections for his own gains, and got away with it for a surprisingly long time. In this book, we get a behind the scenes look at Abagnale’s life, from where he got his beginning with crime, and how his life of crime ended
This book is interesting to me, for a few reasons. Outside of the fact that it’s crazy to see what Abagnale got up to and got away with, I find it very interesting to read a “true retelling” where the supposedly reliable narrator is the con man himself. Abagnale got away for years with manipulating people in to believing what they wanted to believe. He was a well versed con man, and then he wrote a tell all about the crimes he committed.
Now, I have to say, I think it’s amazing what Abagnale’s accomplished since he’s been on the straight and narrow. He’s gone on to work in the crime consultant division with the FBI, helping recognize other criminals who have also been participating in the same crimes he had previously committed.
So, what’s the likelihood that everything in this so called true crime tell all is actually true? I don’t know. There are many skeptics of course. Many people have gone through and picked out inaccuracies. I haven’t found sources for those people who have made these claims though, unfortunately, so I won’t be putting all of my faith in them necessarily, but I’ll mention a few here. For example, a few of them are:
–“When Mom finally divorced my father, I elected to live with Dad.” In numerous recorded speeches, Frank says that he ran away the instant he found out his parents were getting divorced. Literally, the last time his father saw him was running out of Family Court.
– “Ten minutes before the pilot was to make his landing approach, I rose and strolled back to one of the lavatories and locked myself inside.” In his speeches, Frank blames the ‘toilet’ scene on the movie scriptwriters, claiming he actually escaped through the galley.
– He never mentions (although the movie does) that he went directly from prison to working for the FBI (which he has continued to do to this day). All the stuff about him not being able to get a job due to his criminal record was apparently put in the book to conceal that he was an FBI undercover agent during his early years in the FBI, continuing to impersonate and con people, but this time with the government’s aid and approval.
I will say that I do believe that, as much as I genuinely enjoyed this book, it is hard to think that the entire story we get here is the truth. I genuinely enjoyed reading this book, and I think that Frank makes a fantastic storyteller
If you have not yet read this book, I definitely recommend doing so. If anything else, it’s a fun and entertaining side to the stuff we usually only see from police or other law enforcement official’s perspectives. But as for now, that’s all I have to say about Catch Me if You Can.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this book, have you read it yet? If so how do you think it compares to the movie or just in terms of narrator reliability?