- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (March 13, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446579556
- ISBN-13: 978-0446579551
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,493,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Con Ed Hardcover – March 13, 2007
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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.
*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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Sure, you have. But did you take the time to learn the trade so you could use or avoid it when the con presented itself?
Matthew Klein's 2007 novel, "Con Ed," provides both instruction with examples about the art of confidence games and a devious parallel demonstration of a full-blown scam played out in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The storyline follows the efforts of Kip Largo, a notorious confidence artist, attempting to straighten out his life as a dry cleaner employee. He has spent a few years in Lompoc Penitentiary for successfully running a Diet Deck scam with late night television infomercials to fleece "fatties," as he fondly flatters them. The middle-aged penitent is now quietly eking out a living on his own when fate seemingly comes knocking.
The impetus is Kip's ne'er-do-well son, Toby, who has gotten into gambling trouble with money owed to the Russian mob controlling the Bay Area. Toby has taken a beating, literally and figuratively, and needs a place to flop. Kip is also in for a beating from his ex-wife, Celia, who likes being on top in their fragile relationship but does not want Toby crowding her boyfriend and her. Time for some father-son bonding... and figuring out how to get out from under the mob.
Coincidently, Kip has been approached "out of the blue" by a mysterious and disgruntled Jackie Napier, whose husband is trying to parley his Las Vegas gambling fortune into the dot-com boom during its salad days.
Ed Napier is an amalgam of Steve Wynn, Donald Trump and possibly Larry Ellison and an entertaining cipher for an investor on the outside looking into the technology hustle at the turn of the century. Oh yeah, Ed also likes to beat his wife that unsurprisingly makes her unhappy and vindictive. Jackie wants to get her hands on some of Ed's money...say, twenty million dollars.
Before long, Kip has persuaded Andre Sustevich, head of the mob living in Pacific Heights (not Russian Hill), to bankroll his scheme for 60 days and either double his money or literally liquidate Kip. A team of assorted talents - Peter Lund, free-lance code programmer, Jessica Smith, former porn star now porn film director, Elihu Katz, retired scam artist, and even son Toby along with other bit actors - is assembled and the con is afoot.
The action moves quickly through twists and turns as well-laid plans seemingly go awry, then, come back to center and paces to an unexpected Kip's choice conclusion.
The author's writing is spare and draws occasionally on the world-weary, sardonic style of Raymond Chandler for a bemused look at life among grifters, high and low. The details about con games may provide fresh lingo but the big elements will seem familiar thanks to such great films as "The Italian Job" (1969 and 2003 versions), the "The Sting" (1973) with Redford and Newman, and the delightful, almost forgotten "The Flim-Flam Man" (1967) with George C. Scott.
For these reasons I gave "Con Ed" four stars compared to five stars for his more seminal 2014 work, "No Way Back" (reviewed by me October 14, 2014 on the Amazon website for that book).
So, before you plan your next job, you might want to relax and brush up on details from this different sort of self-help manual.
Kip sets up a huge scam that involves the mafia, and a ruthless Vegas entrepreneur. Get a pencil and paper ready because author Klein instructs us on how many of these cons work. It's an education, and it's fun. It's an expensive set up, partially because of Kip's recurring dental bills. People keep knocking his teeth out. Yet he perseveres, because the cost of failure will be death.
The author holds back enough information so that you are never quite sure how this con is set up. The problems increase as Kip comes to realize that one of his people may be a traitor. Lots of little surprises pop up as the game approaches its conclusion. And then there are a couple of big surprises.
I enjoyed this book because it was well written, often funny, exciting, and with a fascinating plot.
Either way, good reading, good momentum, and unexpected plot twists. I recommend. I just recieved Switchback.
Con Ed by Matthew Klein is a story of a complex sting told with humor and some interesting descriptions of classic scams added in for good measure. The byzantine plot keeps the reader guessing as to who's really conning who right up until the very end.
Bottom line: A page turner of a book recommended to readers who enjoy tales of con artists and their cons.