The Last Con


The Last Con is up and coming author Zachary Bartels' second offering. I read his debut novel, Playing Saint, and enjoyed it quite a bit, although I did have some small complaints about it. So when the opportunity arose to read and review his next book, I was excited to read it. I was kind of hoping for a sequel to Playing Saint, since it left off on a semi-cliffhanger, but The Last Con is a stand-alone novel. The book description reads:

"THE KNIGHTS OF MALTA WERE THERE WHEN JERUSALEM FELL, THEY WERE THERE WHEN THE TEMPLARS DISINTEGRATED, AND THEY’RE THERE NOW . . . WAITING IN DETROIT FOR A BORN-AGAIN CON MAN TRYING TO SAVE HIS FAMILY.

Former con man Fletcher Doyle is finally home after six years in the pen. He’s working a menial job, regaining his bearings in the world, and trying to revive his relationships with his wife and twelve-year-old daughter. No easy feat.

But when Fletcher and his family go on a mission trip to Detroit—in the company of the condescending church leader who also happens to be his landlord—Fletcher finds his old life waiting for him. Within hours of arriving in the city, he’s been blackmailed into doing a job for a mysterious criminal who calls himself The Alchemist.

A series of relics hidden by the Knights of Malta, as ancient as they are priceless, are in the sights of The Alchemist. What he needs is a gifted grifter with a background in ecclesiastical history . . . what he needs is Fletcher Doyle.

Between hiding his reawakened criminal life from his wife and trying to hide her from their relentless landlord, Fletcher is ready to give up. But when his family is drawn into the dangerous world he can’t shake, Fletcher is forced to rely on his years in the game to save the only people who mean more to him than the biggest con in history."

It sounds thrilling, and I'm happy to say that many of the issues I had with Playing Saint were fixed or improved upon in The Last Con. The writing style was much more refined and professional. The plot was more realistic and less contrived. Everything just flowed a bit more smoothly in this one. I was instantly hooked in by the prologue, and didn't want to put it down. I enjoyed how he wove the story together and there were plenty of twists, turns, and surprises along the way that I didn't see coming. My only complaint would be that certain aspects of the story were a bit unrealistic, but it wasn't overpowering. Zachary Bartels has a talent for weaving together historical intrigue and modern day suspense. I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys suspense, and I'm looking forward to his next book!

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