The Crime Writers' Association

Gold 2010

Richard Asplin
Conman
longlisted
No Exit Press

Amazon

Synopsis: Young Neil Martin is a kindly family man. A bit geeky, a bit nerdy. If you met him, you would assume he runs a failing comic memorabilia store in London’s Soho. Which he does. In order to bail himself out of a huge stock-ruining, poster sopping basement flood, he needs to claim on his insurance. Which he would do – if he’d remembered to pay his premium.

Terrified of losing everything – his wife Jane, his daughter, his business, his home – and scared to appear the dumb, working-class pleb that Jane’s father always took him for, Neil reluctantly agrees to help Christopher – a passing confidence trickster – use his premises for a big sting. So the con is on and the trap is set. Neil meets Christopher’s crew and, as he introduces them to the world of the vintage comic collectable, he is introduced to the life of the grifter. The swaps, swindles and switcheroos. The colourful patter of marks, mitt fitters, cacklebladders and cold pokes.

But things are never as they seem in the twilight world of the confidence man. And when Christopher’s real target is revealed, Neil finds himself plotting, switching, swapping and scamming for revenge, for redemption. And for his life.

Judges’ comments: A refreshing new take on the time-honoured confidence trick plot: streetwise, contemporary, witty and entertaining.