REVIEW: Confidence Tricks by Tamara Morgan
Dear Ms. Morgan:
This book is a lot of fun with a great hero, more quotable lines than a compendium from John Bartlett, and a somewhat disappointing conclusion. My favorite lines in the book have to be this:
“Spork! I cry spork!” She released some of the tension on his arm but didn’t back away.
“You cry spork?”
“It’s my safe word,” he managed. “You know— functional yet innovative? I hate to brag, but I’ve been told I’m a little of both.”
Poppy Donovan and her best friend ran a number of confidence games, targeting people they perceived had little to lose. One con goes awry and Poppy takes the fall and serves two years in prison. When she is released, she is determined to run one last con on a man who tricked her grandmother out of $80,000. The con Poppy runs is getting Todd, her mark, to fall for her and lavish her with $80,000 worth of goods and jewelry.
Poppy gets her hands on a down payment in the form of a necklace when she and Todd are held up and the necklace is stolen by Asprey Charles and his brother Griff. Poppy then proceeds to hunt down Asprey. Asprey falls for Poppy from nearly the minute she has her stiletto stuck on vulnerable spot on his neck. He wants to help her get back her money from Todd and he wants to soothe away the worries she seems to carry with her. And, he’s helplessly intrigued by her.
Poppy, on the other hand, views Asprey as not much more than a dilettante. He’s a trust fund kid in over his head. Plus, even if she would open up her guarded heart to Asprey, she isn’t sure that she is not simply another lark of his.
The romance between Asprey and Poppy was a bit too superficial for me. I wanted to know more, particularly from Poppy, why she was falling for Asprey and why she wanted to spend her happy ever after with him. Was it just because he loved her or because he represented something she thought she would never have? Like Asprey, I felt that Poppy was too emotionally closed off at times, preventing me from fully understanding her.
Part of the problem with the storyline is that it requires certain individuals to be wholly blind as to one of the most important components of the con. And the major character problems such as Poppy’s need for constant danger and adrenaline and Asprey’s desire not to be responsible in any way were never addressed. Nor were the moral issues that were raised. At one point, Poppy feels uncomfortable toward her marks but instead of this leading to a change, the story conveniently sidesteps Poppy’s discomfort with a convenient resolution. Given that the moral issue is raised a couple of times, I would have liked to have seen a little more introspection on the issue.
The caper spirit, Asprey’s irrepressible nature, and the smart exchanges carry the story through lulls in the plot and action. B-