What I’m Reading: The Scam List

Oh, now this is an entertaining book. I’m not sure if it’s good for you, exactly, but it’s definitely entertaining. The Scam List, by Kurt Dinan, follows Boone McReedy, a seventeen-year-old whose dad is in jail for running con jobs, and who fears he’s on the same course.

Boone likes to drink at the Underground, a bar in his small Ohio town that doesn’t check his fake ID too carefully, where he can flirt and make out with girls with, let’s say, less than stellar judgment. But what he likes most of all is suckering a mark into a bet and taking his money, and he’s damn good at it.

Unfortunately, one Tuesday night when he’s supposed to take the day’s cash to the bank from his mom’s business, a flea market on the edge of both town and bankruptcy, he heads to the Underground first. A pretty girl named Leyla encourages him to buy them both drinks until late in the evening, and at the end of the night, she takes him to the back of his car, where he passes out and she steals the cash, all $15,000 of it. Boone’s fallen for a con himself.

Without that cash, which also includes the proceeds from all the booths for that day and the previous weekend, Boone’s mom might not be able to make the next bank payment, not to mention that some booth owners might leave for a newer flea market that recently set up across the highway. So how can Boone make $15,000 in a short period of time? He’ll need to use every scam he knows, and he’ll need a partner. The best partner he has is his ex-girlfriend, Darby, who hates him. But her parents run a booth at the flea market, so she agrees to join him for the time being, but on the condition that they only run scams on people who deserve them.

Whether Boone and Darby succeed in getting the money, saving the flea market, rekindling their relationship, finding out who stole the money in the first place (hint: Leila’s not her real name), or avoiding getting beat up by angry marks, I’ll leave for you to discover. Let’s just say you know that any book that has scams with names like the Moneybox Bamboozle or the Kansas City Shuffle is going to be fun to read. There are quite a few sexual references in the book (though no actual sex) as well as underage drinking and some moderate cursing, but I would think this book would be fine for older teens or more mature younger ones. I think anybody who likes reading about heists, double-crosses, or any sort of scenario where one character has to outwit another would enjoy this one.

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