In 1966, Ken Leishman stepped onto the Winnipeg Airport tarmac and into the pages of Canadian history as the mastermind behind the country’s largest gold theft. Known as the “flying bandit” or the “gentleman bandit,” Leishman had already gained Dillinger-esque notoriety as a bank robber, when he stole the public’s imagination with his last great exploit: brazenly – and politely – holding up a bank in Toronto.
Regarded as a Robin Hood-like figure at the height of his exploits, Leishman had humble beginnings in Holland, Manitoba. Master story-teller Wayne Tefs imagines what happened behind the "Flying Bandit" headlines, inter-mingling the full-on action of the gold heist with the story of a smart but troubled kid growing up in a stifling small prairie town. Raised by ultra-strict grandparents, young Ken thrived on Bowery Boys, Gary Cooper and James Cagney movies. As a married man and father of seven, Tefs’ Leishman dreams of greatness, and a good life for his family free from poverty and worry. Even as he plots the greatest caper in Canada, he is conflicted by his wife’s tears and guilt-ridden with his failed promises to go straight.
Once again, Tefs presents another fictionalized version of a tremendous true story. Readers will be hard-pressed to judge the life of this “gentleman bandit” and Canadian folk-hero who dared to fly far out of bounds.
About the author
Wayne Tefs was born in Winnipeg and grew up in northwestern Ontario. He has edited a number of anthologies and published nine novels and a work of non-fiction. His novel Moon Lake received the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction in 2000 and his novel Be Wolf won the 2007 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. He lives in Winnipeg with his wife and son.