I bought this book for review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I impressed even myself with this selection. The book is a cracking good story.
The Grifter’s storyline is not particularly fun at the beginning, where the authors introduce us to two characters at the opposite ends of the spectrum: Kent Bancroft, on a meteoric ride to be England’s newest billionaire and James, a begrimed homeless man, doing his best to survive on the streets of London. But they are linked. Inextricably.
Bancroft’s success has come from the investments of what he sees as “little people,” robbing them of their money to provide returns for those who matter to him – people with money and status – who bring him more investors with money and status. One of those little people was James, now a one-legged man as the result of an electrical accident at his work site. And a man with no retirement nest egg and who lost his wife and children when he couldn’t find any work to support them. James’ main goal in life is to get even. But how?
He begins by stalking Bancroft to determine the best place to confront him, then accosting him. In the kerfuffle, Bancroft loses his wallet, and the money in it allows James to design a path to revenge, but not without setbacks. There is also a microSD card hidden in the wallet which sits there in the reader’s memory until these interlocking stories reach a final confrontation.
The story of James’ life on the street is fascinating – how he gets around, where he sleeps, how he feeds himself. He’s also quite a character, not educated or intuitively smart but dogged in his pursuit of Bancroft. The scene where he uses Bancroft’s gym membership card to sneak into Musclebound Fitness to get a shower is hysterical. James’ world is populated by compelling characters such as Fat Baz, a grossly overweight homeless man who has a problem with gaseous emissions, but who knows people who know people.
Bancroft is a weasel, no doubt, and one who is heavily in debt. He has a rapacious second wife who serves as his eye candy, an equally greedy first wife who is determined to insult the second and wheedle more money from Bancroft, and a spoiled daughter for whom nothing is too expensive as long as her father pays for it. With her upcoming nuptials, she is determined to have the wedding of the year or perhaps the decade. In addition, he finds that he bought a painting of dubious provenance at a fund-raising auction for £25 million, something he was too drunk to remember. He restarts his mechanism for attracting lower-class investors to obtain money to pay his debts, but it’s not enough.
James’ struggle to deal with his feelings of impotent fury resonates well, since we all have been wronged at one time or other without the power to do anything about it. I even developed some feelings of sympathy for the hapless Bancroft who is unwilling or unable to stop the drain of money by reining in his wives and daughter. He has somehow managed to keep all this from his partner, who handles the digital part of the firm. But for how long?
The authors obviously did some real research of the homeless in London and their knowledge of high end finance is also clear. This has resulted in some great story telling, relatively fast-paced. The chapters alternate between James and Bancroft, with James’ chapters being written in first person while Bancroft’s are in third person. This makes James’ character and motivation personal, while Bancroft seems to be at sea, buffeted by the people around him and his bankrupt company.
I couldn’t quite find a category for The Grifter. It’s not a mystery, not spy story, not really a psychological turn nor a family story. Maybe a thriller? Nevertheless, I really recommend this book for someone looking for an unorthodox but fun read.
About the authors (Amazon)
Sean Campbell is the author of DCI Morton series (Dead on Demand, Cleaver Square, Ten Guilty Men, The Patient Killer, Missing Persons, The Evolution of a Serial Killer, and My Hands Are Tied). He spends his days working out how to kill people without being caught, and then flipping the switch to play detective. His non-writing interests vary from photography and cinema to rugby and hiking.
Ali Gunn kills people for a living. The characters in Ali’s books are the kind of strong, fearless women that every girl dreams of growing up to be. The first DCI Elsie Mabey novel, The Career Killer, is out now. Book two in the series, The Psychopath Within, is coming 2022
You can find the authors
On Twitter: (@DCIMorton, @GunnCrime
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alltheupsandowns/ (Ali Gunn)
https://www.facebook.com/DCIMorton (Sean Campbell)
On their official websites: https://www.gunncrime.com/
The Grifter is available on Amazon: