The Last Con, by Zachary Bartels

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

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.

Read on for my thoughts on The Last Con and also links to excerpts from the book.

My Take:

Last year, Pastor Zachary Bartels came out with his debut novel Playing Saint, in which the main character was a smooth talking celebrity pastor promising good things to his followers. Bartels’ second book focuses on another smooth talker, but this one doesn’t stay within the law. During the hunt for a religious artefact, Fletcher is arrested and does time. The last thing he wants after release is to meet up with his former associates, but they manage to find him all too easily on a rare visit to his old stomping grounds. Is the former con man now the target of someone else’s con?

The majority of the plot of The Last Con concerns the planning and carrying out of two heists. If this isn’t your cup of tea then you might want to give this book a miss. After all, theft is one of the do nots of the Ten Commandments. But what do you do when you’re being blackmailed, your family is in danger, and your church leader is constantly reminding you of your past? Fletcher seeks counsel from various religious sources as he starts to doubt his salvation. Is it possible that he faked his conversion; doing it so well that he fooled himself as well as everyone else? This leads to the question of who is the real Fletcher? Is he the only one wearing a mask and pretending to be someone he isn’t? The remainder of the tale takes place in late 18th century France and a scam involving Marie Antoinette. The Affair of the Diamond Necklace was masterminded by Cagliostro, who is widely regarded as one of the biggest scam artists in history.

I enjoyed The Last Con and found it to be a page turner full of suspense and intrigue. I didn’t think of it as a Christian novel, but neither did I see it as particularly non-Christian. This was the story of a man trying to start a new life, but who was hindered by elements of his past. The company we keep influences our lives, but I definitely didn’t blame Fletcher for not wanting to spend time with Brad, the church leader who was so obnoxious to him, when his former associates were more welcoming and accepting. The biggest mystery for Fletcher is the identity of The Alchemist, the person pulling the strings behind the scenes. I figured out that one part way through, but thought I couldn’t possibly be right. I was wrong.

Thank you to BookLookBloggers for my complimentary copy of The Last Con, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Last Con? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (a brand of Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

Publication Date: 07 July 2015

Page Count: 400

Read more on:   Zachary Bartels’ Website   Thomas Nelson’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

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One thought on “The Last Con, by Zachary Bartels

  1. Pingback: Old Favorites: August | Proverbial Reads

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