The most recommended books about confidence tricks

Who picked these books? Meet our 65 experts.

65 authors created a book list connected to confidence tricks, and here are their favorite confidence trick books.
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What type of confidence trick book?


Joe Gould's Secret

By Joseph Mitchell,

Book cover of Joe Gould's Secret

Bill Scheft Author Of Tommy Dash: Was It Everything I Said?

From Bill's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Drummer Widower Urban Wit Sober

Bill's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Bill love this book?

This is embarrassing. Joseph Mitchell, the journalist and legendary longtime contributor to the New Yorker, is, in my opinion, the finest chronicler of 1950-80s Manhattan life who ever lived.

Here’s what’s embarrassing. I have previously devoured all of his story collections and any reprints in the New Yorker, but never read his greatest work, about the Village bohemian eccentric Joe Gould. Not anymore. As deft a piece of journalism as ever was.

By Joseph Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Joe Gould's Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'It's a masterpiece, of course, but more than that it shows that there is some such thing as being a simple observer' Nicci French, Independent

It was 1932 when Joseph Mitchell first came across Joe Gould, a Harvard-educated vagrant of Greenwich Village. Penniless, filthy, scurrilous, charming, thieving, Joe Gould was widely considered a genius. He was working on a book he called an Oral History - the longest book ever written he claimed, formed of recorded conversations set down in exercise books. Of course, when Gould died the great epic was nowhere to be found.

This compelling portrait of a…

The Shill

By John Shepphird,

Book cover of The Shill

Steven Jankowski Author Of Below the Line

From the list on noir crime with characters that aren’t detectives.

Who am I?

As a screenwriter I’ve always enjoyed noir stories, whether books or movies. Stories where the characters are not your squeaky-clean “good guys.” I like to see “ordinary” people; people who are flawed (like all of us), or maybe with a shady past, who are swayed or manipulated by dire circumstances into doing something they would not ordinarily do. I enjoy stories with unique, interesting characters that are not your run-of-the-mill private eyes, and whose moral compass might be a bit off. I particularly like stories where characters are forced to become investigators because of a situation they are thrust into, whether by accident or by their own dubious actions. 

Steven's book list on noir crime with characters that aren’t detectives

Why did Steven love this book?

In this first book of The Shill Trilogy struggling actress Jane Innes is seduced by a handsome new arrival in her acting class. He admits he’s a con man and needs Jane to pose as a rich, carefree heiress to fulfill his intricate scam. I loved this book because Jane, being desperate for money, and love, agrees to help the con man that has seduced her. Is it love or money the reason she agrees? I believe there is no black and white, good or evil in characters when it comes to morals. I enjoy stories that show us the gray in us, and how one can be swayed to the dark side through desperation if given the right opportunity.

By John Shepphird,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Struggling actress Jane Innes is seduced by a handsome new arrival in her acting class. He makes a proposition. He admits he’s a con man and needs Jane to pose as a rich, carefree heiress to fulfill her part in his intricate scam.

Would you agree? Or run the other way?

All goes as planned until Jane’s true identity threatens to surface and their scheme begins to crack at the seams.

It all leads to a tangled maze of deception, depravity and murder.

THE SHILL is part one of a trilogy from Shamus Award winning author, John Shepphird.

Ocean's 11

By George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell,

Book cover of Ocean's 11

J.L. Delozier Author Of Con Me Once

From the list on Las Vegas-based crime novels featuring cons.

Who am I?

I love the psychology behind a good con. Con artists are the ultimate anti-heroes - masterful manipulators and highly observant, but unscrupulous at heart. And after reading a GQ article on “real-life superheroes” – people who dress up in homemade costumes and patrol their neighborhoods – I became fascinated by that psychology, too. Las Vegas is the capital of con and Cons—a unique city bursting with swindlers and cosplayers decked out in full regalia. What better place to set a crime novel? And thus—voilaCon Me Once was born.

J.L.'s book list on Las Vegas-based crime novels featuring cons

Why did J.L. love this book?

This 1960 book by George Clayton Johnson, who wrote the scripts for The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and the sci-fi film Logan’s Run, was a tie-in for the original Ocean’s Eleven movie featuring the Rat Pack. It’s hard to find, but worth it as it contains all the elements of a classic Vegas con – the mob, the girlfriend, the complex relationships between the conmen and their marks. It delves into the characters more than either movie, although admittedly, it’s impossible to read the book without picturing the 2001 film and its star-studded cast. 

By George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ocean's 11 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Mrs. Kimble

By Jennifer Haigh,

Book cover of Mrs. Kimble

Tanya E. Williams Author Of A Man Called Smith

From the list on emotional reads to leave you with a book hangover.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by people’s behavior since I was a child. I was the kid who asked too many impertinent questions, never satisfied with the short answer. When I fell in love with historical fiction, the history mingled with my interest in human psychology. I soon discovered that despite advancements throughout civilization, people’s wants, needs, and fears remain fairly consistent. The exploration of life experiences that are not our own through the power of a book is pure magic. I hope these recommendations will allow you to put another’s life on like you would your winter parka and just for a moment, gain an understanding of another’s trials and tribulations. 

Tanya's book list on emotional reads to leave you with a book hangover

Why did Tanya love this book?

I will admit it, I am a sucker for a compelling book cover. The cover of Mrs. Kimble completely drew me in and it didn’t take long for me to be so immersed that I wanted to grab the characters by their shoulders and shake some sense into them. I was intrigued by the idea of a “serial husband” but honestly, I wanted to know more about this narcissistic man who could simply change who he was at any given moment all the while changing careers, hometowns, and wives without nary a backwards glance. Self-centered doesn’t even begin to describe Ken Kimble but he sure does make the novel an intriguing story about love, loss, betrayal, and human nature in all of its glory.

By Jennifer Haigh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mrs. Kimble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Covering a span of twenty five years, Mrs Kimble tells the story of three women married in succession to the same man - a charismatic opportunist named Ken Kimble. Told from the perspective of each Mrs Kimble, it offers a mesmerising look at how three very different women become accomplices in their own deception.

We see Ken Kimble through the eyes of the women he seduces: his first wife, Birdie, who struggles to hold herself together in the months following his desertion; his second wife, Joan, a lonely heiress recovering from personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her last chance…

Cover Story

By Susan Rigetti,

Book cover of Cover Story

Victoria Weisfeld Author Of Architect of Courage

From the list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Who am I?

When I say I enjoy stories of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, I’m talking about characters who don’t have law enforcement or Special Forces training, who aren’t martial arts experts, KGB agents, or CIA officers. I like those characters too, but they typically engage my head, not my heart. Thrown into dangerous situations, “ordinary” individuals can show tremendous courage and quick-wittedness. I can easily put myself in their shoes and empathize with their plight, which gives me a real stake in the story’s outcome. If a story is well-written, the creative ways characters respond and the strengths they discover within themselves make them true heroes to me.

Victoria's book list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations

Why did Victoria love this book?

This jigsaw puzzle of a psychological thriller involves a world-class con artist. So, so cleverly done. I didn’t put all the pieces together until the very end, which took my breath away, literally! Most of the story is told via the diary of a naïve college dropout, who wants desperately to work for a fashion magazine. She wangles an internship with an important publication and reveals to the diary her growing admiration for one of the mag’s high-living senior editors. Memoranda and phone messages of other people reveal the authorities are suspicious of the editor, as the intern works merrily on. I wanted her to wake up! I unsuccessfully tried to telepathically communicate the danger signs to her, but no.

By Susan Rigetti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cover Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Netflix's Inventing Anna and Hulu's The Dropout meets Catch Me If You Can in this captivating novel about an ambitious young woman who gets trapped in a charismatic con artist's scam.

A Most Anticipated Book by Entertainment Weekly, Marie Claire, Parade, New York Post, Shondaland, E!, Fortune, PopSugar, and more!

"It's exciting, it's surprising, it's satisfying, it's darkly funny, and it will keep you guessing."-Linda Holmes for

After a rough year at NYU, aspiring writer Lora Ricci is thrilled to land a summer internship at ELLE magazine where she meets Cat Wolff, contributing editor and enigmatic daughter of a…

Book cover of Red Seas Under Red Skies

Misty Massey Author Of Mad Kestrel

From the list on pirates who like a little magic in the mix.

Who am I?

I grew up on the coast of South Carolina, where many of the Golden Age pirates were welcomed as business associates and charming guests by some of the most influential people of the day. They are, to this day, considered local heroes. I read everything I could lay hands on about them, fiction and histories, and I knew my first book would have to be about the pirate I always pretended I could be, if I’d only been born two hundred years ago.

Misty's book list on pirates who like a little magic in the mix

Why did Misty love this book?

If there’s anything I like as much as pirates, it’s heist stories. The excellent follow-up to the amazing Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas rang every one of my bells by taking our favorite thieving bastards Locke and Jean to sea, under the command of a strong, brilliant female captain, Zamira Drakasha. And she’s not just a woman pirate – she’s a middle-aged, Black single mother, running her ship and being the best pirate any denizen of the high seas could aspire to be. Lynch caught a good bit of flack for this character, but I was delighted. You will be, too.

By Scott Lynch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Red Seas Under Red Skies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Escaping from the attentions of the Bondsmagi Locke Lamora, the estwhile Thorn of Camorr and Jean Tannen have fled their home city. Taking ship they arrive in the city state of Tal Varrar where they are soon planning their most spectacular heist yet; they will take the luxurious gaming house, The Sinspire, for all of its countless riches.

No-one has ever taken even a single coin from the Sinspire that wasn't won on the tables or in the other games of chance on offer there.

But, as ever, the path of true crime rarely runs smooth and Locke and Jean…

Gypsy Hearts

By Robert Eversz,

Book cover of Gypsy Hearts

Andrew Pearson Author Of The Dead Chip Syndicate

From the list on that should be adapted into movies.

Who am I?

I am the MD of a Hong Kong-based software and AI consulting company, keeping me on top of all the latest AI technological developments. Previously, I worked in Hollywood, writing scripts, adapting novels, and working in production. My scripts have won awards at several prestigious screenwriting festivals throughout the world. However, wanting to expand my creative horizon, I wrote my first novel, The Dead Chip Syndicate, and quickly found a traditional publisher for it in 2022. Release is set for July 2023. It's the first in my Exotics series, which follows the exploits of an ex-pat navigating the Asian gambling world as he gets embroiled in one scandal and scam after another.

Andrew's book list on that should be adapted into movies

Why did Andrew love this book?

A laugh-out-loud funny book about an American scam artist looking for marks on the streets of Prague.

Posing as a successful Hollywood screenwriter, Nix swindles female tourists, but ends up stealing from the wrong woman as it attracts the attention of the woman’s fiancé, a local detective, whose soon sets his sight on Nix. When Nix spots a sultry young woman at the train station, he thinks he’s found his next victim, but she leads him on, then cleans him out. 

Thinking the two could be an unbeatable pair together, Nix tracks Monika down, but accidentally kills her pimp. The two team up, and Monika draws Nix deep into her web of lies. The book is filled with clever dialogue and two nihilistic characters, who will shock, fascinate, and entertain.

By Robert Eversz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gypsy Hearts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A darkly comic thriller tells the story of Richard Milhous Miller, a twenty-five-year-old American scam artist posing as a Hollywood screenwriter in Prague, who meets his match in the amoral half-gypsy Monika.

A Spy in the House

By Y. S. Lee,

Book cover of A Spy in the House

Kathleen Baldwin Author Of A School for Unusual Girls

From the list on secret spy schools for girls.

Who am I?

Spy stories have always captivated me. This fascination grew after I learned that throughout history, many women worked behind the scenes as key spies. How cool is that? So, I decided to write a girls' spy school set in Jane Austen's world. Junior Library Guild said this about A School for Unusual Girls, “An outstanding alternative history series entry and a must-have for teen libraries.” Scholastic licensed the series for their school book fairs. Ian Bryce, the producer of Spiderman, Transformers, Saving Private Ryan, and other blockbusters, optioned it for film. To date, more than 600,000 copies of my award-winning historical novels are in the hands of readers around the globe.

Kathleen's book list on secret spy schools for girls

Why did Kathleen love this book?

I absolutely loved this series! The heroine is a young woman struggling to survive the harsh streets of Victorian England. Caught stealing, Mary Quinn is convicted and sentenced to hang. However, the Agency rescues her from the noose and provides her with an education. In return, she trains to work as an investigative agent among the upper-class society of London. These books expose the realistic darker side of that world, but if you could handle Oliver Twist, you can handle these. Lee captured the mystery and intrigue so brilliantly I could not put them down.

By Y. S. Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Spy in the House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A colourful, action-packed Victorian detective novel centred around the exploits of "agent" Mary Quinn.

At a young age, Mary is rescued from the gallows by a woman masquerading as a prison warden. She is taken to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. The school, Mary learns, is a front for a private investigation agency and, at 17, she is taken on as an agent. In her new role she is catapulted into the family home of the Thorolds to investigate the shady business dealings of Mr Thorold.

Fly By Night

By Frances Hardinge,

Book cover of Fly By Night

Sheila Grau Author Of The Boy with 17 Senses

From the list on middle grade with breathtaking imagination.

Who am I?

I am an author of five books for children. I am also an avid reader of middle grade fiction, especially speculative fiction. I love exploring other people’s imaginations. It’s not only entertaining, but incredibly inspiring. Like most people, when I discover a book that I love, I can’t wait to share it with my friends. I hope you love these selections as much as I do! It was really hard to limit myself to just five. 

Sheila's book list on middle grade with breathtaking imagination

Why did Sheila love this book?

Imagination + beautiful writing. I love books that surprise me. Whether it’s with imaginative settings, intricate plots, beautiful writing, or humor. Surprise me, and I’m hooked. For me, no writer does this better than Frances Hardinge. Her books are incredibly unique. There is nobody who writes like her, who thinks up plots like her. Any one of her books is a trip on a totally new adventure. I started with Fly By Night and have read everything by her since.

By Frances Hardinge,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fly By Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad. Mosca Mye was born at a time sacred to Goodman Palpitattle, He Who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butterchurns, which is why her father insisted on naming her after the housefly. He also insisted on teaching her to read-even in a world where books are dangerous, regulated things. Eight years later, Quillam Mye died, leaving behind an orphaned daughter with an inauspicious name and an all-consuming hunger for words. Trapped…

Games Criminals Play

By Bud Allen, Diana Bosta,

Book cover of Games Criminals Play: How You Can Profit by Knowing Them

Judith A. Yates Author Of When Nashville Bled: The untold stories of serial killer Paul Dennis Reid

From the list on true crime books to keep on your shelf.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning true crime author, criminologist, and victims advocate who has written and presented on crime for over 30 years. I know that history teaches us how and why crime occurs and why it will happen again, but crime doesn't happen in a vacuum. History, personality, and human nature all play a part. There is always a "story behind the story." I appreciate true crime books that teach us rather than sensationalize. The faster we share knowledge, the easier it is to catch criminals.

Judith's book list on true crime books to keep on your shelf

Why did Judith love this book?

Manipulation is a simple art.

I require all students and mentees to read this book and keep it on their shelves. It is an easy read and contains information that will keep future law enforcement officers safe from inmate behavior. Civilians can apply these skills to everyday life to protect themselves as well. We call it “the trick bag”, falling for a simple ruse and landing as a pawn in an inmate’s game in prison. The “game” is a series of manipulations over time that might lead to the target’s incarceration, loss of job, and public humiliation. 

This book is an effective tool for offender management and exposing criminal scams. The examples are accurate and anyone can use the tools it discusses. The authors discuss the anatomy of the setup, susceptibility profiles of both inmate and target, survival traits, and more. It can start with a pencil and end with…

By Bud Allen, Diana Bosta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Games Criminals Play as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Games Criminals Play

The Anderson Tapes

By Lawrence Sanders,

Book cover of The Anderson Tapes

Deon Meyer Author Of The Dark Flood

From the list on old-school crime fiction standing the test of time.

Who am I?

I’m a South African crime fiction author. My books are published in 27 languages in more than 40 countries worldwide. Two of my books were turned into international TV series. Accolades for my books include Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière from France, the Deutsche Krimi Preis, the Swedish Martin Beck Award, and the Barry Award for Best Thriller in the USA.

Deon's book list on old-school crime fiction standing the test of time

Why did Deon love this book?

Sanders’ protagonist, the delightful New York Police Department Captain Edward X. Delaney, had the wonderful habit of building delicious sandwiches that he ate over the kitchen basin. From him, I learnt that crime fiction characters can be quirky. And what they ate said as much about them as what they said.

By Lawrence Sanders,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Anderson Tapes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The explosive Edgar Award–winning debut novel—told entirely through surveillance recordings, eyewitness reports, and other “official” documents—by New York Times bestselling author Lawrence Sanders

New York City. Summer 1968.Newly sprung from prison, professional burglar John Anderson is preparing for the biggest heist of his criminal career. The mark is a Manhattan luxury apartment building with the tony address of 535 East Seventy-Third Street. Enlisting a crew of scouts, con artists, and a getaway driver, Anderson orchestrates what he believes to be a foolproof plan. To pull off the big score, he needs one last thing: the permission of the local mafia,…

Luck in the Shadows

By Lynn Flewelling,

Book cover of Luck in the Shadows

Michael Barakiva Author Of One Man Guy

From the list on reimagining LGBTQIAP+ representation in sci-fi.

Who am I?

I'm a queer guy who loves speculative fiction. That hasn't been easy. The Disney villains of my childhood were all some kind of horrible LGBTQIAP+ stereotype (Ursula from The Little Mermaid literally modeled after a drag queen. Gaston, the muscle queen. Jafar, the effeminate manipulator...the list goes on and on). I recently watched the first season of Vox slack-jawed: the only queer representation was an effeminate, over-weight, makeup-ed, middle-aged queen lusting after a much younger straight character. Like many writers in the last few years, I'm trying to re-imagine speculative fiction with an array of LGBTQIAP+ characters in my upcoming contemporary epic fantasy YA book These Precious Stones.

Michael's book list on reimagining LGBTQIAP+ representation in sci-fi

Why did Michael love this book?

You gotta give props to Flewelling, who wrote a fantasy series with queer male protags in 1996! Just imagine – before Will & Grace, before Queer as Folk, before gay marriage was even a thing, she had the courage to write this deeply moving spy espionage fantasy book and the relationship between the noble rogue Seregil and his mentee/lover Alec was basically what I used as a model for every romantic relationship in my life. Also, the protag in my first two books was named Alek. Coincidence? I think not.

By Lynn Flewelling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Luck in the Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A new star is rising in the fantasy firmament...teems with magic and spine-chilling amounts of skullduggery."–Dave Duncan, author of The Great Game

When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them. Soon Alec is traveling roads he never knew existed, toward…

Billion Dollar Whale

By Tom Wright, Bradley Hope,

Book cover of Billion Dollar Whale

Robert Kerbeck Author Of RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street

From the list on cons and scams.

Who am I?

Growing up in the automobile business (my great-grandfather sold horse carriages before cars were invented!), I’ve always been fascinated by salesmen and con artists, and the very thin line that often separates the two. What is a sales pitch, for example, and what is an outright lie? Where does the truth live anymore? Media? Politics? Business? None of the above? It has never been more important to learn the truth, and never has it been harder to find it. And it’s this very issue that is dividing the world. We think the other side has been conned. They think we’ve been conned. One thing’s for sure—someone’s getting conned. And that’s why I love con books! 

Robert's book list on cons and scams

Why did Robert love this book?

Billion Dollar Whale is the story of Asian financier, Jho Low, and the global financial swindle that involved Interpol, the Malaysian prime minister, Goldman Sachs, and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Leonardo DiCaprio. Low was even one of the primary financiers of—wait for it—The Wolf of Wall Street, the Oscar-nominated crime biopic about Jordan Belfort. Think about that for a moment: A film glorifying financial malfeasance was funded via financial malfeasance. You can’t make this shit up and you must read Billion Dollar Whale

By Tom Wright, Bradley Hope,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Billion Dollar Whale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2009, with the dust yet to settle on the financial crisis, a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitude was being set into motion. It began in Malaysia and would spread around the world, touching some of the world's leading financial firms, A-list Hollywood celebrities, supermodels, Las Vegas casinos and nightclubs, and even the art world. Now known as the 1MDB affair, the scandal would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system.

Federal agents who helped unravel Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme say the 1MDB affair will become the textbook case of financial fraud in the…

The Flimflam Affair

By Bill Pronzini,

Book cover of The Flimflam Affair

Weldon Burge Author Of Harvester of Sorrow

From the list on police procedural series.

Who am I?

I’ve been a writer of nonfiction and fiction and full-time editor since my college years, and a publisher (Smart Rhino Publications). I’ve read horror and suspense fiction all my life, but it’s only been in the past decade or so that my reading has turned more and more toward police procedurals, noir, and crime fiction. It was only natural that I’d turn to writing a police procedural series, starting with Harvester of Sorrow. I hope you’ll read all the wonderful books I’ve recommended!

Weldon's book list on police procedural series

Why did Weldon love this book?

I’ve always enjoyed Bill Pronzini’s work (including his work with wife Marcia Muller). The Flimflam Affair is the first book I read from his Carpenter and Quincannon series. This is a perfect example of how to embed historical fact into crime fiction. Although this is not a police procedural novel (the lead characters are private detectives), procedural elements are certainly included throughout. I’m envious of Pronzini’s ability to use the beginning of the 20th century as a backdrop for this fine series.

By Bill Pronzini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flimflam Affair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Flimflam Affair is the latest charming historical mystery in Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Bill Pronzini's detective series.

Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services is a fixture in San Francisco at the dawn of a new century. While the future is unclear, Sabina and John know one thing for certain; they will protect their clients from flimflammers, thieves, and murderers, and do whatever it takes to run these dregs of society into the arms of the law.

Sometimes, that requires a subtle touch. Professor A. Vargas, self-styled medium extraordinaire, and his partner Annabelle, use guile and trickery to…

Book cover of Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: The Early Years

Graham Rust Author Of By Faith and Love: A Memoir

From the list on the artist and the art of living.

Who am I?

I have been an avid reader from an early age and painting has been my life's work since attending art school from the age of sixteen. Having painted the largest mural in a private house in the 20th century, over a period of fourteen years since 1968, it has been a great privilege to live as part of the families in so many diverse and beautiful houses in Britain, Europe, The Middle East, and The Americas. Many of the interesting people that I have met along the way have greatly enriched my being and I am particularly intrigued by the way that chance encounter shapes one's life. Serendipity is all!

Graham's book list on the artist and the art of living

Why did Graham love this book?

The best tale and totally mesmerizing story of the confidence-man Felix Krull, who developed the art of subterfuge and deception to a phenomenal degree.

Escaping from a childhood of poverty he eventually rose to mingle with the highest echelons of European society. Helped by being young and good-looking Krull was irresistible to women, of which he was not slow to take advantage.

This chameleon-like quality enabled him to adapt to countless situations and to pursue his career as a highly gifted swindler impervious to the conduct and morals of normal humankind.

When, eventually, the Marquis de Venosta makes him a proposal he cannot refuse - his world changes.

A bewitching experience.

By Thomas Mann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recounts the enchanted career of the con man extraordinaire Felix Krull--a man unhampered by the moral precepts that govern the conduct of ordinary people.

The Misfit Soldier

By Michael Mammay,

Book cover of The Misfit Soldier

Chris Gerrib Author Of One of Our Spaceships is Missing

From the list on approachable new space operas.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading and enjoying science fiction since, as a kid, I rode my bicycle to the local library to read everything they had. That’s given me a broad exposure to the field from the Golden Age classics to new stuff hot off the presses. I’ve had four science fiction novels published, and in all of them I’ve used personal experiences to create as realistic a world as possible. I’ve also focused on ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances – that combination makes for better stories. I’ll leave the superheroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – they’ve got the budget to Blow Stuff Up Real Good!

Chris' book list on approachable new space operas

Why did Chris love this book?

Star Trek is a great series, but you expect the flagship of the Federation to be able to handle pretty much anything. I’m much more interested in how ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations. 

Michael Mammay, who like me, is former military, has a very ordinary hero in this story - Sergeant Gastovsky (“Gas” to everybody he knows). Gas’s one superpower is he knows everybody and can make a deal with anybody.

The Misfit Soldier is very enjoyable. The first half of the book is basically the plot of the movie Kelly's Heroes which is a WWII heist movie. It’s well-told and moves quickly. The second part, also based on Mammay’s personal experiences, is how his future military deals with the aftermath.

It’s a standalone, which is also a plus.

By Michael Mammay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Misfit Soldier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ocean's Eleven meets John Scalzi in this funny, action-filled, stand-alone sci-fi adventure from the author of Planetside, in which a small team of misfit soldiers takes on a mission that could change the entire galaxy.

Sergeant Gastovsky-Gas to everyone but his superior officers-never wanted to be a soldier. Far from it. But when a con goes wrong and he needs a place to lay low for a while, he finds himself wearing the power armor of the augmented infantry.

After three years on a six-year contract, Gas has found his groove running low-level cons and various illegal activities that make…

The Lies I Tell

By Julie Clark,

Book cover of The Lies I Tell

Angela Lam Author Of No Amends

From the list on sociopaths and liars.

Who am I?

Why am I an expert on recommending books about sociopaths and liars? I unknowingly shared a life with one for five years. Shattered, I grappled with the aftermath of deception. How could I have been duped for so long? Through therapy and reading, I discovered many smart, compassionate people fall hard for the charismatic charm and convincing stories sociopaths tell to get whatever it is they want from whomever they want it. Without a conscious and incapable of feeling, they often latch onto someone with high morals and emotional intelligence in the hopes of learning how to mirror those attributes only to destroy the ones who love them the most.

Angela's book list on sociopaths and liars

Why did Angela love this book?

Sure, you could say con artist Meg Williams, or any of the aliases this woman goes by, is a vigilante, determined to right the wrongs done to her by society through the many lies she tells. Or you could see her as a sociopathic opportunist.

Kara Roberts is out to catch Williams and bring her to justice for being instrumental in both destroying Roberts’ career and her personal life. But once Roberts gets close to Williams, she falters…and falls under her spell. See a pattern yet? Yep, that’s right. The sociopath always charms the victim.

While the book skews toward a Machiavellian “the ends justify the means” philosophy, the characters are duplicitous and amoral at best, sociopathic and self-serving at worst.

By Julie Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lies I Tell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Julie Clark has done it again...taking you straight into the collision course of two dynamic, complicated women." -Laura Dave, #1 New York Times bestselling author

From the instant New York Times bestselling author of The Last Flight!

She's back.

Meg Williams. Maggie Littleton. Melody Wilde. Different names for the same person, depending on the town, depending on the job. She's a con artist who erases herself to become whoever you need her to be-a college student. A life coach. A real estate agent. Nothing about her is real. She slides alongside you and tells you exactly what you need to…

The Queen

By Josh Levin,

Book cover of The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth

Mark Robert Rank Author Of The Poverty Paradox: Understanding Economic Hardship Amid American Prosperity

From the list on understanding the paradox of American inequality.

Who am I?

For much of my career as a sociologist and professor of social welfare, I’ve focused my research and teaching on the issue of economic and social inequality in America. Why should the United States have both great wealth and yet at the same time extreme poverty and inequities? This question has motivated much of my scholarly and popular writing over the years. For me, this represents the fault line of America. We profess the importance that all are created equal, and yet our actions undermine such a belief. Why should this be the case, and how can we change the reality to reflect the ideal? 

Mark's book list on understanding the paradox of American inequality

Why did Mark love this book?

One of the most enduring stereotypes about poverty and welfare, has been that of the welfare queen – someone living the good life on welfare and grossly abusing the system. 

Ronald Reagan used the example of Linda Taylor in the 1970s to epitomize and capitalize on this myth in order to score political points. Josh Levin tracked down the actual story of Linda Taylor. As is so often the case, the truth is much stranger than fiction. 

A riveting biography of the individual who was at ground zero of the welfare queen myth.

By Josh Levin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'The Queen is an invaluable work of non-fiction' - David Grann, Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon

This is the gripping true tale of a villain who changed American history.

In the 1970s, Linda Taylor became a fur-wearing, Cadillac-driving symbol of the undeserving poor - the original 'welfare queen'. In the press she was the ultimate template for this insidious stereotype; Ronald Reagan himself cited her criminal behaviour in his…

24 Hours

By Greg Iles,

Book cover of 24 Hours

Bronwyn Rust Author Of Angellove: We Were the Lucky Ones.

From the list on realistic horrifying thrillers.

Who am I?

I was always addicted to the true crime shows on late at night; the real stories of good and evil in everyday life, around every corner. I was fascinated by why people do the things they do. It wasn’t always about the nature of crime itself, but how we get through it and overcome it, and survive it, and ultimately how it changes us… And what the power of love and hate can lead you to do, or to become. I now write about the harrowing and horrifying possibilities that could await any of us. And give you knowledge and food for thought that may help you, if hell finds you.

Bronwyn's book list on realistic horrifying thrillers

Why did Bronwyn love this book?

This was a fun and thrilling read about an intricate kidnapping plot. A seemingly perfect crime with the picture-perfect family; ‘Picture Perfect’, is only ever for the picture.

It taught me that even if the odds are stacked against you, you are not captive to your circumstance. This was a psychological and active fight for survival, not only for one’s own survival but for those whom you love.

Courage is contagious.

By Greg Iles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 24 Hours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Will Jennings, his wife and little girl are a happy American family, living in Mississippi. Hickey is a conman and kidnapper. He targets his victims very carefully and takes great pains to make sure no one is ever hurt. He has yet to kill. All his victims have come up with the money and the authorities have never been involved. His perfect record is down to two things: One, he always stays with the parents or person with the money. Two, he never asks for more than they can afford. But when he tries to rip Will's family apart, he…

Con Man

By J.R. Weil, W.T. Brannon,

Book cover of Con Man: A Master Swindler's Own Story

Alan Prendergast Author Of Gangbuster: One Man's Battle Against Crime, Corruption, and the Klan

From the list on con artists, swindlers, and other big fat liars.

Who am I?

My father was a stage magician, and I grew up looking for the gimmick behind the marvel. As a journalist, I gravitated toward true crime and the many varieties of fraud, deception, and misdirection on display in any high-stakes criminal trial. I am particularly fascinated by elaborate cons, whether they involve sideshow mitt readers, political hucksters, or cryptocurrency barons. When I found out that a century ago my hometown was the center of a Big Con operation that raked in millions, I had to learn more. The result is my book Gangbuster

Alan's book list on con artists, swindlers, and other big fat liars

Why did Alan love this book?

This as-told-to memoir by Weil, better known as the Yellow Kid, is a crash course in grifts of all kinds, from petty barroom scams to elaborate shady deals in oil, stocks, and real estate.

Weil is a witty tour guide and a gifted impostor, posing as a geologist, banker, or tycoon as needed. To me, what’s most eye-opening is his total lack of compassion for his victims, whom he regards as greedy suckers who deserve to be fleeced.

Criminals rarely see themselves as in the wrong, and Weil’s efforts to justify his larcenous career make for an intriguing con played on the reader.  

By J.R. Weil, W.T. Brannon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Con Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Joseph “Yellow Kid” Weil, a man who could—and often did—pull off scams to outshine The Sting.

In his long career as a confidence man, Joseph “Yellow Kid” Weil swindled the public of more than eight million dollars and established the reputation for robbery and trickery. Always beating the police at their own game, “Yellow Kid” used phony oil deals, women, fixed races, and an endless list of other tricks to best an increasingly gullible public. One day, he was Dr. Henri Reuel, a noted geologist who traveled around and told his hosts that he was a representative…