Friday, August 03, 2007

Con Ed - Matthew Klein

Con Ed
Matthew Klein
Warner Books


Kip Largo has spent his life running cons. As he narrates this novel, he tells the reader all about some very elementary cons and how they work. In the first scene, he prevents a thug from throttling an inept scammer. Walking to his car after the episode, he’s confronted by a blonde who wants to hire him. She’s sporting a black eye under her sunglasses and offers Kip $100,000 to do a “simple job” for her. Out of prison for just a year after serving five for securities and mail fraud, Kip turns her down and returns to his $10/hour job at the dry cleaner’s.

Then, his son, Toby, 25, shows up at his apartment, asking to stay. Clearly, Toby is in trouble. Eventually, he admits that he owes $60,000 in gambling debts to the Russian mob. When the mobsters break Toby’s leg and a couple of ribs, Kip is pushed into a corner. He knows that the worst reason to get involved in a scheme is out of desperation, but he’s got to protect his kid. And, really, a gorgeous blonde married to a Las Vegas casino owner would just be hanging around a local bar, and just happen to run into the perfect con man, right? Sure, she would.

Kip is a cynical, world-weary guy with a dry and self-deprecating wit. That makes him an extremely entertaining narrator. He’s also a con man, who has spent his life learning how to ingratiate himself to others. As the story progresses, and the truth about some of his cons come to light, he becomes less sympathetic. But, as with any good con, by the time that happens, the mark (that would be the reader) is hooked. The story is fast-paced and streamlined, with enough surprises to be entertaining without undue confusion; it’s only at the end that the entire truth is revealed. An excellent debut; I hope to see much more from this author.

Rating: 8
March 2007
ISBN# 978-0-446-57955-1 (hardcover)


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