Believe It?: Bluff, The Great Swindle, and The Confidence Game

3 Jul

If you love to be fooled, or just admire a good scam, I have a handful of books that might appeal to you.

By Michael Kardos
Bluff by Michael Kardos is set in various locales in New Jersey (Rahway, Highlands, Atlantic City, and more), but that’s just incidental to the story. The plot involves Natalie Webb, a prestidigitator magician (as opposed to the big trick guys like David Blaine, Penn and Teller, etc.) who is not quite making ends meet. After a disastrous performance, she finds herself in need of some cash, and decides to write an article about the art of cheating at cards. In looking for a good subject for her story, she finds herself using her magic skills to assist in a major poker scam.

You don’t have to know about poker to follow the action. Turns out the art of cheating at cards is more than a mere mechanical skill set. It involves a lot of psychology as well. Things don’t go as planned. Trouble ensues.

The suspense and fast pace make this a good summer read.  You can borrow it in print from the Hoboken Public Library or our resident patrons can check it out from Hoopla.

Great Swindle
by Pierre Lemaitre
Great Swindle
If you are in the mood for bigger scams with a historical background, you may enjoy The Great Swindle, by Pierre Lemaitre.

The story involves Albert and Edouard, damaged veterans of World War I who find their country’s gratitude for their service to be wanting. They devise a scheme to take money for war memorials that will never be constructed.

Meanwhile, their former Lieutenant who was responsible for their terrible injuries is running a scam of his own.

It is fascinating to see how these three lives intersect and you’ll be racing to the finish to learn what happens. It was also fascinating to learn about the historical precedent for one of these scams. My only quibble with this excellent book was a little too convenient coincidence that is involved toward the end of the novel.

The Confidence Game
by Maria Konnikova
The Confidence Game
Finally, if you prefer non-fiction, Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time is an insightful look at the psychology of the confidence game. Spoiler alert: we like to believe great stories. Konnikova dissects the art and psychology of the con game, and claims that we all can be fooled. In this age of alternative facts, this book gives some great context for understanding how a con works.  The Confidence Game is available as an ebook and digital audiobook from eBCCLS.

Written by
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

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