The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf, and Armed Robbery
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The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf, and Armed Robbery

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  147 ratings  ·  27 reviews
He was a 1930s golf legend and Hollywood trickster who adamantly refused to be photographed. He never played professionally, yet sports-writing legend Grantland Rice still heralded him as “the greatest golfer in the world.” Then, in 1937, the secrets of John Montague’s past were exposed—leading to a sensational trial that captivated the nation.

From three-time New York Time...more
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Published May 6th 2008 by Random House Audio (first published 2008)
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Jonny99
Reminds one of the novel Jack Torrence wrote during his residence at the Overlook Hotel. John Montague golfed really, really well. There, you have been spared maybe 300 of the 400 pages of Montville's really, really repetitive retelling of Montague's rise from armed robber to Hollywood swell to guy on trial for armed robbery. In between he played golf really, really, really well with famous people at the Lakeside Country Club. To break up the long cataloging of his really, really, low scores (60...more
Hal
This book was written I am assuming for more a curiosity then anything. The legend continues or more correctly a story is told of a person most had never heard of, in current generations anyway. One thing I particularly found curious is that the picture of Montague on the cover looks a lot like Jackie Gleason in golf pose. Also in the picture section where we see probably quite rare pictures of Oliver Hardy and Bing Crosby with Montague, there is one of an aging Montague that looks a lot like Mi...more
Julie Failla Earhart
SPOILER ALERT: Do not look at the pictures. One of them gives away the outcome of trial and deflates the story’s tension.
It wasn’t golf that attracted me to Leigh Montville’s biography of The Mysterious Montague. It was the True Tale of Hollywood…and Armed Robbery. I’m a sucker for Old Hollywood stories.
John Montague appeared on the Hollywood scene in 1934 and was soon dubbed “the greatest golfer in the world.” Better than any professional great of the day.
No one knows where he came from, where...more
Dave
LaVerne Moore was one of the more colorful figures in the world of golf in the 1930's and Leigh Montville tells his tale in all its boisterous glory in The Mysterious Montague, A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf, and Armed Robbery.

John Montague, as Moore was better known, was a trick shot artist who could chip a ball into a highball glass or under the sash of a partially-opened window across the room. He reputedly knocked a bird off a power line from 170 yards and consistently drove the ball over 30...more
Walter
This is a very enjoyable, page-turning read about an intriguing character, known variously as (The Mysterious) John Montague or LaVern Moore. Leigh Montville tells the tale well with an easy, flowing style that makes for quick and fun reading of a rather interesting story.

In an otherwise enjoyable experience, the most disappointing thing about the book is that its protagonist disappoints in the end. Essentially, for the vast majority of the story, Moore/Montague is an intriguing, freakishly tale...more
C.E.
Fascinating tale of a guy who once might have been the greatest golfer that ever lived--the only problem was he was living under an assumed name, wanted in connection with an armed robbery in upstate NY. Montville lays out the tale in more-or-less chronological fashion, letting the incredible facts speak for themselves. Not only does he do a nice job of retelling the story, but also presents an interesting picture of the Hollywood country club set of the 1930s and the small town tourist and boot...more
Paul
A pleasant diversionary book about a man who seems to have been a brief national phenomenon, about whom I knew nothing about.

I read an advance readers copy, so I was bereft of photographs, and they probably would have added more of a personal side to the story, but it was nonetheless fun to walk through the early life of this man, his criminal days, then hanging out with the Hollywood elite such as Bing Crosby and the sporting elite, such as Babe Ruth, and living with Oliver Hardy (of Laurel n'...more
John
Pretty good book of the best that almost was.
Chris
The Mysterious Montague is an enjoyable story about a man named LaVerne Moore from Syracuse, NY who fled after a robbery and resurfaced as a mysterious golf player named John Montague in California. He was so good at the game of golf, and he surrounded himself with such a popular crowd of celebrities that an article and picture made its way back home to the authorities who were eager to put him on trial, even after many years had passed.
This book is a fun book about John and his story. I don't e...more
Corny
This could have been a great magazine piece. Unfortunately there is not enough meat for a full length book so the author has to stretch it out using all sorts of filler, extraneous material and repetition. The result makes for a very unevenly written story with some high points. The fungo, shovel and rake story is retold so many times, sometimes with different facts, that by the end I wish I had that shovel to break over the author's head!! Underneath all the excess verbiage is a real mystery th...more
J.C.
A pretty decent account of the life of a guy I had never heard of, there's a reason for that but I won't spoil anything. Could have been a lot better, more narrative and less reliance on other source material would have been nice but it wasn't critical and overall did nothing to add to or take away from the experience. If it had been longer (400-500 pgs) I would not have finished it. Mostly its a book about a semi-somebody turned nobody.
Rhett
A very detailed telling of the celebrity years of the Paul Bunyan of the golf world. The author presents the escapades of John Montague through the experiences of those who knew the infamous man. Montville avoids filling-in gaps in Montague's history and does an excellent job of telling the story objectively from the information available in newspaper articles, editorials and written accounts of those who knew him.
Stone Guthrie
I read about this book in ESPN magazine and was interested. I bought it and I was amazed this book filled all of my expectations the book kept me reading the characters were interesting but this book was not my favorite from this author.Interesting story of a depression-era robber turned friend to the stars, who was regarded as the best golfer of his day. Also he performed a great robbery at the same time.
David
This is the kind of book you expect from Leigh Montville, one of Sports Illustrated company of superb writers. It's a yarn full of twists and turns, and demonstrates, once again, that truth is stranger than fiction. The subtitle says it all, and it is a real page-turner; you don't have to be a golfer, or even a golf fan, to enjoy "Montague".
Douglas
Aug 23, 2009 Douglas marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Really looking forward to this EHS. I love books/bios set in the "roaring 20s." I think I would have totally been into flapper girls. I also bought this book because the type is jumbo and I look to look like a fast reader. I got a big...eh eh eh...ego.
Bbennis
I started out thinking this was a biography of Jackie Gleason . . .but it's just someone who looks like Jackie Gleason. He's a pretty remarkable guy, but once you've heard a few stories the rest of the book is just more of the same.
Ron
An utterly remarkable piece of storytelling about an obscure figure who led an amazing life. It isn't just for sports fans or fans of true crime, but for anyone who appreciates the scope and tragic arc of a failed life.
Turi
Nice combination of golf book, Hollywood heyday of the 1930s, and historical true crime a la Erik Larson's Devil in the White City. Interesting coverage of post-prohibition celebrity trial.
Dennis Willingham
Interesting story of a depression-era robber turned friend to the stars, who was regarded as the best golfer of his day by those who were familiar with him but ended up as a sideshow.
Rachel
This book was excellent! Im so glad I could finally read it. It is such a fascinating story, and I do not like sports novels. A good read for all.
Kurt
Fantastic biography of a truly great American living a truly great American dream. Well maybe not the end, but close enough.
Nate Hendrix
I read about this book in ESPN magazine and was interested. This is an amazing story of someone trying to change his life.
Burt
Worth reading about a time in history like no other. The stories of the celebrities were fun to read
Gene Edwards
An amazing story of an interesting guy of whom I had never heard. It is almost unbelievable.
Kevin
Fascinating book. Too bad he had a past, he could have been a contender!
Don
Not as good as his books on Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
Dbarbakow
Good beginning. So-so ending.
Jeff Kile
Jeff Kile marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2014
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Leigh Montville is a highly respected sportswriter, columnist and author. He is a graduate of the University of Connecticut.Montville is married to Diane Foster and has two children. He lives in Massachusetts and is an ardent supporter of the Boston Red Sox.
More about Leigh Montville...
Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth Evel At the Altar of Speed: The Fast Life and Tragic Death of Dale Earnhardt The Best American Sports Writing 2009

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