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Con Ed Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 13, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Klein's amusing debut, one-time con man Kip Largo, who's been working at a dry cleaner since completing an eight-year stretch in prison for fraud, is intrigued when the gorgeous wife of Silicon Valley billionaire Edward Napier asks him to help her steal her husband's money, but not intrigued enough to follow through—at least not until he discovers that his not-bright son, Toby, owes several hundred thousand dollars to the Russian mob. Deciding that this is his chance to finally do right by his family, Kip sets about organizing a large-scale swindle to lure in Napier, all too aware that if he fails to pull it off, he and Toby (and the con's other participants) will all be killed. While the plot and characters tend to be by the numbers, the author's background information on how cons work is enormously entertaining. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Who's scamming whom? That's a persistent question in Con Ed. Once-rich con-man Kip Largo is going straight, living small, and making $10 per hour in a dry-cleaning store after doing eight years for wire fraud. Life is dull, but Kip wants it that way, until his son Toby shows up, on the run from the Russian Mob. Kip needs a big score to save Toby, and a timely proposal from the stunning young wife of a dangerous Las Vegas casino owner provides him with a target for a grand scam. Con Ed is a brisk, clever, and charming page-turner. Most chapters begin with a short lesson on the art of the con, and the whole book is full of knowledgeable observations on the culture of Silicon Valley, e.g., the very best programmers, "code Marines," are freelancers who have agents to negotiate their contracts. Kip, who is conflicted about his relationship with his con-man father, his failed marriage, and his concern for his wastrel son, is a wonderful character who ruminates on his fated return to crime in vaguely Buddhist terms. Con Ed is a winner, and crime fans should remember the name Matthew Klein. Thomas Gaughan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446579556
  • ASIN: B005SN4L9A
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,119,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matthew Klein is a software programmer, entrepreneur, and novelist.

He's a Yale graduate, a business-school dropout, and the founder of several technology companies that went bust. Today he runs a financial-technology software firm.

He lives in Westchester County, outside New York City, with his wife Laura, two sons, and a whippet. He's currently at work on his fourth novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jules Brenner on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In the realm of mysteries, you don't often get as amusing a read as this first novel by Matthew Klein. Not only is it about a huge and intricate scam, but it targets some very shady and dangerous criminal types -- one a too-smart-for-anyone's-good Las Vegas casino operator, the other a Russian mobster. A shred of social consciousness won't be found in either portfolio.

The wondrous achievement of the book is Klein's expertise in imagining the intricate scheme he builds a story around, and detailing every step of the way for our edification and fascination. He's actually roping us into it as if we, the readers, are the marks. Dangerous and hilarious.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thriller Lover VINE VOICE on March 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I usually read over a hundred thrillers a year, and I think CON-ED is one of the best debuts that I've read recently. It's a very entertaining page-turner with a lot of intelligent humor.

This story involves Kip Largo, a 54-year old con-man who needs to pull an elaborate scam in order to pay off his son's gambling debts. Most of the novel deals with how devious Largo is in setting up the scam. Along the way, there are a lot of tricky twists and turns in the plot. If you've seen movies like "The Sting" then you should have a good sense of what this novel is like.

This is essentially a comedic novel, and Mr. Klein has a very sharp wit. I laughed out loud quite a few times at Klein's descriptions of life in Silicon Valley, and the excesses of the dot com economy. Klein also takes the time to explain how con-men work and operate; I found his explanation of certain con-games to be quite fascinating and educational.

Downsides? With the exception of Kip Largo, the characterization in this book is paper-thin for the most part. Most of the women in this book are pretty much sex objects and have little depth. There is also a major twist at the end of this book that you can spot a mile away.

Overall, though, this is a fine debut and an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. If you liked this book, you might want to try the Tony Valentine books written by James Swain, which are very similar in theme.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr James N Simpson on July 28, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Con Ed, (also published under the title Conned in Australia and in other markets) is one of the best books I've read in a while. It sort of reads like a Richard Stark, Parker novel but with a lot more twists and little bit more humour. Conned although dealing with some heavy subject matter, is a light, quick easy read. Matthew Klein certainly knows how to tell a tale and I'll definitely be checking out his first novel Switchback and anything else he writes after this. Klein has well researched the world of the con artist and through his main character Kip Largo's stories educated the reader on many a con and therefore how to avoid becoming a victim. Klein's humorous observation commentary again through his witty main character of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto and other parts of California is hilarious and heightens the enjoyment factor for the reader even more.

The basic tale of Con Ed is told through a narration by recently released from Prison (ironically for business practices while not doing a con) Kip Largo. Kip doesn't want to go back behind bars so has decided to leave his successful con artist past behind him, even though his standard of life is not that high by being straight. Unfortunately he has a rather dimwitted son who has got into severe financial debt with a Russian crime boss so when he gets a call from the hospital, visits his son and realises he'll die if he can't come up with the money, Kip decides he better go for one last big score after all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Derrick Peterman on January 5, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kip Largo is a con man trying rather unsuccessfully to go straight in Silicon Valley during the dot com gold in the late 90's. Things start to get interesting when his son owes $60,000 to the Russian Mafia in gambling debts, just before the wife of a billionare Casino tycoon, comes "out of the blue" offering Largo $100,000, to help her get back at her husband. Largo's street smarts tells him something's up, but that hardly stops him from creating an elaborate con to pay off his son's debt. With funding from the Russian Mafia, Largo hatches a con involving stock market price manipulation to rip off Casino tycoon with the help of a few computer hackers, an ex-porn star, and his son. But of course, we know that something else is really going on, and it's a lot fun trying to figure out what the real con is.

The book works because Klein creates a totally smart and believable character in Kip Largo, who is always one or two steps ahead of everyone, including me as a read this book. In the work of a lesser author, this would require various "cheats" or plot gimmicks, but Klein resists the temptation to take this easy way out, with the result of a very entertaining book. And it's quite funny, with many laugh out loud moments.

The story is told through the Kip Largo character, and a small quibble with the book is that we don't get to know all the other characters very well. But Klein has created a very unique, smart and human character with Kip Largo. We learn about his relationship with his father (not good), his son who he reluctantly includes in the con (Kip's afraid he's repeating the same mistakes his father made with him), and his ex-wife (somehow, they find a way to stop fighting for the good of their son). And these things raise the stakes of the con even that much higher.

The payoff is so important to a book like this, and Klein comes up with a great ending. One of the best works of fiction I've read in a long time.
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