City of Shadows (Counterfeit Lady No. 5) – Victoria Thompson

I’m such a fan of Victoria Thompson’s writing in general and the Counterfeit Lady series does not disappoint. For one thing, Thompson’s research is excellent and she brings the periods she writes about alive. Lizzie, our “former” con artist is now married to Gideon Bates. She met his mother quite by accident when Mrs. Bates was protesting for women’s votes in Washington, DC and they became great friends. Lizzie is supposed to stay out of her old man’s and half brother’s ways, but she gets caught up in doing good by conning bad people, without remuneration for her. In City of Shadows, the “mark” is a con artist herself, a post WWI medium who cons wealthy widows and gold star mothers into investing their money in “sure things” that will never materialize. Lizzie’s family initially won’t get involved helping her, because of a code among con artists but soon, multiple, intricate cons involving out of town specialists, inexperienced but talented “extras,” a fake office with Harriet, who answers all the fake phone numbers on fake business cards, culminating in a dramatic and oddly believable spur of the moment con that satisfies. While Thompson’s imagination could make it hard to believe the things that happen, I find I just do believe her stories. That takes care as a writer in being consistent, making everything plausible with sufficient background and creating terrific characters.

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