This fifth installment of a series sees married grifters attempt to tweak their con artistry with fresh talent.
In the town of Springville, the Traveling Man is going by the name John Ferguson. His wife, who usually helps him con criminals out of vast sums of money, is still using the alias Nicole Carter from their last caper. She hopes to retire in Cricket Bay, Florida, alongside James Denison, the grieving widower whom the Travelers recently helped. Replacing Nicole is 25-year-old Molly Wright, who has “more confidence than ability” in the grifting game. She and John plan to gain the trust of sleazy lawyer Neal Robertson and access his safe-deposit box at the Milton Bank—which may contain up to $100,000 in cash. Naturally, complications arise. Molly hasn’t mentioned her husband, Chad, who’d like to rip off John at the earliest opportunity. Interfering with Nicole’s retirement is Fred Stein, a crooked IT worker who recognizes her as Sally from the time the Travelers halted his credit card scheme. When these two wild cards intrude on the game, the cons end up pushed into some dark, murderous corners. For this latest Travelers outing, King (The Freeport Robbery, 2017, etc.) once again offers a lean, dialogue-driven blast of shifting alliances and action. Longtime fans will enjoy the emotional tapestry built around the notion that Nicole is “too old” to continue seducing marks and John needs to train her replacement. With minimal exposition, the author keeps his characters’ temperaments and decisions in the forefront of the story. It’s genuinely shocking—and narratively satisfying—when Nicole is honest with Denison and his family about being a con artist. Later, as events are boiling toward a fatal encounter, the Traveling Man’s no-nonsense savagery comes through in the line “I want to kill...so bad that I can taste his blood in my mouth.” As always, King leaves his creations in intriguing new positions by the end, ensuring anticipation for the next high-stakes volume.
This Travelers tale delivers another exceptional slice of gamesmanship, slippery morals, and emotional fallout.