Friday, July 3, 2020

Only When I Larf - Len Deighton

Three conmen - Silas, Bob and Liz - are brilliant at conning people. Silas is older, an ex-military man who worked under Liz's father's command in the war, Bob is a self-improvement, archaeology buff who loves books and is fully into himself and Liz is besotted with the suave Silas. Bob is besotted with Liz. The first caper is conning some medium-sized businessmen looking to earn 78% return on investment and then they head from America to London.

In London they narrowly escape with their lives in a caper involving some African country - the war minister they are dealing with is taken home in a box - while they're let off with a warning. By the time of the third caper, Bob wants control instead of being second in command, Liz is tiring of Silas, so they did it differently. Liz and Bob play main lead, Silas is the secretary, whom Bob taunts all the time, and they pull off their final caper. Everyone gets what they want in the end and the group pretty much splits up.

The story goes forward from the perspective of the three protagonists in every chapter which was an interesting device. The con jobs sound very credible. Deighton's dialogue brings the subtle nuances of each character out vividly. Thanks Vinod bhai.

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