The autobiography of Mason, as per the subtitle, contains confessions – he’s craftily waited until the (US) statute of limitations has passed on a number of jewel thefts before admitting to them in this book.

Mason stole large numbers of jewels over a number of decades, though invariably from the rich (mainly American celebrities who are less well known here), and he was strict about not using guns or other violence, making the opening sections of this book read like a real-life Raffles or Fantomas. Many of Mason’s thefts are accomplished appallingly easily, as he frequently points out that people have elaborate security systems which they don’t turn on, or heavily-reinforced sliding doors which they don’t lock. If nothing else, the book acts as a reminder to lock up after you go out.

However, from about the halfway point onwards, Mason spends a lot of time writing about his attempts to stay out of jail, and this is far less interesting. Perhaps it’s because the exact nature of legal wrangles is pretty alien to a limey like me, or because Mason becomes less sympathetic when he’s out on the town drinking with his lawyers and leaving his wife and kids at home, but I found this section pretty uninteresting. When he gets sent to jail – and he does, despite some fairly insane courtroom machinations – he writes well about this, providing some good insights into life behind bars and dispelling a lot of myths.

Overall, not a bad read, but I found myself plodding a bit through the legal stuff which dominates the middle and onwards. It’s well written on the whole, with Mason coming off as pretty likeable despite his open admissions of being a criminal, and it’s refreshingly down to earth, unlike most crime-based TV or films. You might want to check this out – it’s an American book, but it’s been published by Bantam Press in the UK, so though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you buy it, your local library might have a copy.