Picks and Pans Review: King Con
by Stephen J. Cannell
That Cannell’s latest novel reads like a script should come as no surprise. The author is, after all, best known for his work as a prolific television writer and producer (The Rockford Files, Hunter and The Commish). And indeed, months before this book went to press, John Travolta had already signed to star in the screen version.
Zipping along with few pretensions to literature, this novel is pure fun. The story begins when charming con man Beano X. Bates cheats a New Jersey Mafia boss at poker and is nearly beaten to death with a golf club as a result. Lest his own nefarious doings be exposed, Bates—whose skillful scamming has earned him the honorific King Con—sneaks out of town before the case goes to trial. But when a witness is murdered before she can take the stand, a guilt-ridden Bates and state prosecutor Victoria Hart team up to bring the mafioso down—and fall in love while they go about it.
Chock-full of con-game lingo and lovable flimflam artists, King Con may sometimes feel grounded more in Hollywood than in reality, but it’s so entertaining the venue hardly seems to matter. (Morrow, $24)