“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Greatest Trick The Devil Ever Pulled …

… was to convince you that that line originated with ‘The Usual Suspects’, and not Baudelaire. Anyhoos, for such a fine, upstanding pillar of the community (see here for his charity work), Critical Mick appreciates a good scam better than most. T’was he, indeed, who pointed your humble host in the direction of Eamon Dillon’s THE FRAUDSTERS, in the process recommending it most heartily. Quoth the blurb elves:
THERE are as many ways to earn cash dishonestly as to make an honest living. Fraud is now an international industry, with a shadowy underworld network where everything from songbirds and garlic, to designer goods and medicines are faked and sold on.
  THE FRAUDSTERS details the proliferation of con tricks, old and new, being deployed every day by an army of these hard-working criminals. It tells how con artists come in all shapes and sizes – the scammers who stick to their flimsy stories, no matter what, the white collar grafters who like to think that nobody gets hurt when they hoodwink a financial institution, and then there are the psychopaths who are cold-blooded about their victims. They will pretend to be your friend, a respected banker, or even a lover, to win the trust they plan to violate.
  For some the lure of illicit money is more potent than doing a day’s work. Dillon reveals how identify theft works, the dangers of joining pyramid schemes and how charlatans, pretending to be successful business people, exploit loopholes in tax regulations to live the lifestyle of the super-rich. He describes how billions have been stolen by highly-organised gangs of swindlers, who sell unlikely tales through internet chat rooms and forums, and how arrogance, greed, gullibility and insecurity combine to make some people easy prey for the con artists.
  THE FRAUDSTERS tells the stories of these modern day criminals and their victims.
  It’s an obvious one, but my favourite scam novel is Jim Thompson’s THE GRIFTERS. Anyone got a really good grift novel we should be reading?