Growing up during the Depression in a segregated West Virginia coal-mining town, the bright and willful Doris Payne dreamed big, fascinated by the fine clothes, jewels, and lifestyles in magazines such as Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar. Mostly, she dreamed of freedom from the limitations placed on her by others and from her abusive father. After the owner of a local store threw her out when a white customer arrived, Doris vowed that neither her race nor her gender would hold her back. She was going to control her own life and make her own money.
Using her Southern charm and quick wit, Doris began shoplifting small pieces of jewelry from local stores, and over the course of six decades, grew her talents with each heist. As a world-class expert jewel thief, she daringly pulled off numerous diamond robberies, using nuns and various ruses to help her avoid arrest while her Jewish boyfriend fenced the stolen gems. But eventually Doris got caught. This is her story—audacious, exciting, and rip-roaringly fun.