This sixth installment of a series finds the Traveling Man grifting alone while his partner enjoys a normal life.
The Traveling Man, a career con artist, is using the name Tony Rogers while in Mitchellville, Maryland. His wife, continuing under the alias Nicole, has opted for semiretirement with millionaire James Denison in San Francisco. Tony flies without his usual backup into the midst of lawyer Jerry Chen, National Defense Agent Paul Robertson, and several other conspirators who have stolen NGO aid funds from Kyrgyzstan. Chen plans to break into the safe of Clemens, the conspirator holding key bank account codes, to protect himself from being offed by someone killing members of the group. The attorney contacts Missy Grey, a player who calls Tony to crack the safe. The heist goes well until someone murders Duke and Barker, Tony’s partners, making it personal. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Nicole battles the boredom of living straight by taking on Lily Crockett, a young apprentice criminal. Together they flirt and drink with men and joyride in stolen cars. But when Lily attempts a solo adventure, the callow con doesn’t escape the attention of her marks. They steal her purse and threaten to unravel her life, which forces Nicole to step in. In this latest volume of The Travelers series, King (The Kidnap Victim, 2018, etc.) maintains his svelte, addictive style despite a touch of nostalgia for his characters’ early days. As Nicole reminds Tony, “Money spends better when you have to steal it.” Denison can’t quite douse Nicole’s grifting fire, and she frequently tells him not to worry (“Just relax. This isn’t Cricket Bay”). The plot’s main thrill is seeing Tony in action alone among a half-dozen greedy backstabbers. There’s fresh tension here, as the author eventually proves that his con has “that old happiness” with Nicole, and is “one step better than he was on his own.” From the elegiac tone, readers may suspect disaster in the final pages. Or will events leave the Travelers prepped for either the quiet life or another thrilling mark?
The author alters the stakes in this entertaining con artist tale and brings his characters full circle.