Allen Provides Compelling Tell-All Read

by Erin Brock

Chas Allen tells his side of the story in his nonfiction account “Mr. Pink: The Inside Story of the Transylvania Book Heist.” Of the four men convicted of the crime, Allen is the last to go public about his involvement.

On Dec. 17, 2004, three students from the University of Kentucky and one from Transy stole four rare items from the library’s special collections. They tried to sell the books through several means and were caught a few months later by federal authorities.

Allen describes the events leading up to the infamous day of the heist through the day he and the others were incarcerated.

The title of the book comes from the code names the four used in planning the heist, which they took from the movie “Reservoir Dogs.” The movie served as their inspiration during the months before the heist.

The book’s outside appearance is extremely appealing and wills the reader to pick it up, with the black background, the hot-pink type and the intriguing picture of a hooded man wearing sunglasses. Upon opening the book however, the type is unlike other books; instead, the pages look like mini versions of a word document, which is strange at first but makes the pages go by faster.

I read the book, a significant length of 315 pages, in an extremely short amount of time, due to its easy transitions and interesting story. The events which lead up to the heist include a lot of beer pong, many weed-induced musings and some serious theft and gambling, all mixed in with some relationship and family drama.
The book is not flawless, having a few typos and a few too many clichés, but these errors do not take away from the story itself.

Reading a book that talks about Lexington and mentions buildings around campus and places in Lexington that I’ve been to, like the Goodwill on New Circle Road for example, is somewhat exciting. Most of the mentions of Transy are, understandably, tied to the planning of the heist itself. However, the social life of our campus is mentioned, usually not in the most positive light, such as the following: “ ‘Yeah, Ethan came by to get me because they were having a hall party over at Transy.’ ‘I bet that was fun …’ I said sarcastically.”

Despite the above-mentioned scoff and a few other impolite comments found in the text, “Mr. Pink” is a compelling read from start to finish, full of college experiences — some which we can relate to, and others, such as a multimillion-dollar heist, that we cannot. The reader must keep in mind, however, that as a first-person nonfiction account, the events are told through a certain lens and should be weighed against the known facts.


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