Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History

On May 9, 1980, what usually only happens in action-thriller movies came to life in Orange County, California. I don’t usually read true-crime, but Houlahan’s writing pulled me in. While reading this incredibly well researched and documented account, I could almost smell the gun powder, hear the cacophony of gunfire making my ears ring and see the dust clear as the largest crime scene in American history came into v

 Houlahan does more than document the crime here; the author tells the back-story of each of the men who committed the robbery that morning and each of the law enforcement officers dispatched to help stop them.  As the crime unfolds, Houlahan walks the reader step-by-step through the entire crime-scene and trial.

 The book ends on a more hopeful note, explaining how out of nearly impossible to believe events, much needed changes were made dealing with everything from racism and post-traumatic stress disorder within the law enforcement community to how militarization of police on the local level needed to be better implemented.

Houlahan’s writing was so intriguing; There were moments of laughter at just how crazy things got, and there were reminders that the five landscapers that set off that morning were not always criminals.  

 I found myself reading long into the night in an attempt to understand just how did this whole thing go so very wrong on both sides?

The crime and court case may have been an unbelievable catastrophe, but this book is pitch-perfect. 

–Shannon Alden
Literati Bookstore Book Ninja

Featured in June 2019 newsletter