Books about heroic con artists?
May 31, 2012 7:38 AM   Subscribe

What are the best books about heroic con artists? Nonfiction (Schindler's List) or fiction (Going Postal) are both fine.
posted by Sticherbeast to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

Does Catch Me If You Can count as heroic?
posted by xenization at 8:05 AM on May 31, 2012

Does Catch Me If You Can count as heroic?

Not really. He's just charming and generally not-evil. He doesn't actively do any good that I can recall.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:09 AM on May 31, 2012

Fletch. (Books are different, better than the movie.)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:16 AM on May 31, 2012


The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett.

White Cat by Holly Black (and sequels Red Glove and Black Heart)


The Music Man
The Sting
Ocean's Eleven
posted by kyrademon at 8:20 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Whoops, got confused, you were only asking about books. Please ignore the movie suggestions.)
posted by kyrademon at 8:21 AM on May 31, 2012

Oh, and for nonfiction, there's the story of Hans Van Meegeren, as recounted in books like The Forger's Spell and others ... while not exactly a hero, he is still actually rather revered in his home country of the Netherlands for having conned the Nazis.
posted by kyrademon at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2012

The Dortmunder books by Westlake are great... he's not exactly right "heroic" but usually guy getting ripped off or robbed is a jerk in some way.
posted by The otter lady at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2012

Agent Zigzag is a great book(though he wasn't entirely heroic):

Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began.
posted by Bearman at 8:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Haven't read the stories but Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser would seem to qualify.

Regis from The Icewind Dale Trilogy would fit too, as a former thief and agent of a crime boss, heroic but still willing to play a few tricks to make his way into wealth and public office.
posted by XMLicious at 10:13 AM on May 31, 2012

The Illuminatus! Trilogy is filled with heroic con men. And non-heroic con men. It would really take a hero to figure out which is which.
posted by Quonab at 10:55 AM on May 31, 2012

'American Gods', some Stainless Steel Rat books.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:02 PM on May 31, 2012

some Stainless Steel Rat books

Oh yeah! Also, the Stainless Steel Rat reference reminds me of Flashman, who while a coward and a cad, does seem to accidentally wind up doing some good. Sometimes. Unintentionally.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:40 PM on May 31, 2012

Matchstick Men, maybe?
posted by OHSnap at 10:30 PM on May 31, 2012

Seconding The Lies of Locke Lamora.

I haven't read them for twenty years, but I remember enjoying Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer and If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon. Both are about ordinary people -- four men in one, a lone woman in the other -- who turn into con men/women to exact revenge on some bad people.

The Archer is pretty light, the Sheldon is very dramatic and over the top in that 1980s way.
posted by Georgina at 5:51 AM on June 1, 2012

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