Breezy, novelized screenplay from TV screenwriter Cannell (Final Victim, 1996, etc.) almost makes crime cute. When charming...

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KING CON

Breezy, novelized screenplay from TV screenwriter Cannell (Final Victim, 1996, etc.) almost makes crime cute. When charming card cheat and confidence man Beano X. Bates takes too much money out of the pocket of Armani-draped New Jersey mafia boss Joseph Rina, Rina nearly beats him to death with a golf club. Rather than testify against Rina in an upcoming trial, Bates leaves the hospital and disappears, leaving feisty, terminally beautiful state prosecutor Victoria Hart without much of a case. Then Carol Sesnick, a protected witness in the Rina trial, is found murdered, along with her two state-police bodyguards, at the bottom of an elevator shaft in a Trenton apartment building. Hiding out as a used-car salesman in Florida, Beano, who's also on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, feels bad seeing his face flashed on television. He wants to quit being a con man and live easy with his cute terrier Roger-the-Dodger, but, having descended from a family of grifters, Bates can't quite ignore the calling of his blood. The murder of Sesnick, who's descended from a family of gypsies that has intermarried with the Bates clan, gives him the excuse to use his nefarious skills to bring Rina to justice. He teams up with Hart and teaches her a thing or two about small-time scams and the joys of preying on the deservingly dishonest. The two fall in love and wind up sufficiently imperiled (having successfully duped Tommy ""Two Times"" Rina, Joe's homicidal brother) to justify a slam-bang, ultraviolent finish just before the wedding bells ring. Cannell shows off his skill at Elmore Leonard-style plot twists and slangy street dialogue, but his blend of cinematically detailed violence and pointless Hollywood fairy-tale scenes fails to convince.

Pub Date: June 4, 1997

ISBN: 0062034693

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997