New Release Giveaway!
Swindler & Son: A Heist Misadventure By Ted Krever
10 Lucky Winners Will Receive a digital copy of Swindler & Son!
**Giveaway Eligible in US Only**
What happens to a confidence man once he’s lost his confidence? Nothing good.
After years of selling legendary fakes to well-heeled clients in Paris, Nicky Sandler’s luck has run dry. His new wife wants out, his partner is collapsing from dementia—a fatal flaw in a conman—and the anti-terrorism squad is camped outside his window.
Swindler & Son is the story of a man with a gift for larceny, forced against his will to try to do the right thing.
When I arrive, he’s tucked into a dim corner. He rises before I can reach him.
“Why is GIGN all around my apartment? You don’t warn me?”
His eyes bulge like marbles. “Where’s your phone?”
“Phone? Stolen. I got mugged.”
He looks relieved. “That’s why they’re not here yet,” he mutters and pulls me into the private room in back.
“Nicky, our past history—and the fact that I like you—is why I’ll give you a minute’s grace before I call you in.” He’s serious! His face goes cold—not like he doesn’t know me, like he’s never seen me before. “Normal corruption is one thing—but this?”
Normal corruption? Normal corruption is my specialty! He’s reducing ten thousand years of civilized give-and-take to a catchphrase. Not to mention, it’s fed him quite nicely, thank you, over the years.
I look at his face, at the disappointment and condescension there, and realize what a farce it all is. You treat them like princes but the first time you actually need them to put out…they might as well be in insurance.
Faced with this ingratitude, something inside me just gives up.
“Okay,” I tell him. “I surrender.”
“I’ll confess, right now. It’s the jet ramps, isn’t it?”
He looks confused.
“We have this client, a dictator…you know the old joke about, you’re not really a country unless you have your own stamps, your own airline and your own beer? Well, he’s got commemorative stamps, a brewery, a Mercedes stretch limo and a portrait of himself as Julius Caesar. But he gets embarrassed when his guests have to descend a staircase off the plane.
“There’s a staircase on Air Force One’ I tell him and he says, ‘They could have a ramp if they wanted one.’ So when Kumbatta collapsed, we flew a cargo plane in and liberated a couple of jetramps. The guy was so happy, he painted two Cessna’s and proclaimed them the national airline. I don’t think we hurt anybody.”
Beltoise settles into the nearest chair, not saying a word.
“That’s not it?”
“Okay, Napoleon’s penis—that was a good deed, I swear.”
“It’s your Minister of Defence’s fault! Not the present Minister, the old one. He had this…thing about Napoleon’s penis, that it should be back in France where it belongs.”
“It is in France! Napoleon’s body is at Les Invalides!”
“The body, sure, but his penis was removed during the autopsy and it’s floated around ever since from collector to collector. It’s now owned by a urologist, naturally, in Philadelphia.”
“Don’t be funny.”
“It’s true. The BBC measured it a few years ago and found it a bit small. Naturally, that outraged the Minister, who insisted the English don’t know how to measure. The urologist’s price was just outrageous so we found a…more generously-sized one around the same age, for a price the Minister could afford. It made him happy.”
“You found him another penis?”
“Another old penis! You think that was easy? How many three-hundred-year-old penises you think are floating around?”
Beltoise stares at me with—I can’t tell if it’s respect or concern. The odd thing is, to me, this is actually beginning to feel pretty righteous. Confession really is good for the soul. “Okay, not the answer. Give me a chance. The eighteen identical one-of-a-kind Moroccan emeralds—”
“The Van Gogh with the wrong ear missing?”
Beltoise rolls his eyes. “We’ve never met,” he warns, “except for a few state dinners with hundreds of other people I’ve never met either—but my advice is, you find a quick way out of France now. And don’t bother replacing your phone—they’ll find you as soon as you do. You understand?”
This is terrifying—Beltoise is a glorified flatfoot with a fancy office. I’m begging to be arrested and he’s not biting. It’sunnatural.
“Throw me a bone here,” I say. “I don’t understand what’s happened.”
He grimaces. “You know damn well it’s the bomb.”
Of course, I know all about the bomb. I’d arrived back in Paris the day before, just in time for the funerals. Twelve dead, 37 injured, a miracle it wasn’t more. A mountain of flowers in plastic sleeves heaped on the rubble, candles arrayed like soldiers in front of the dress shop left somehow intact on the corner.
And a march from the Place De la Republique to the Place de la Nacion, thousands, orderly and dogged, middle-class families and university students, Le President and his rivals, butchers, bakers, artists and computer technicians shuffling through neighborhood streets between broad public squares, solemn and chattering, sombre but fashionable—Paris, formal but somehow intimate. Great buildings and beautiful women dressed in black. Paris is a grand dame, maybe a bit past her prime, but she still knows how to put on a funeral.
‘It’s an escalation,’ they say, the voices that multiply in crowds. Just a few years ago, ‘they’ were content to shoot up a restaurant or concert hall. Now, somehow, they bring in a bomb the size of a safe to bring down half a block of five-story apartment buildings.
The size of the explosion makes people nervous. Nobody builds a bomb that size to bring down the Rue Breguet. We all sense a grander plan that went awry and the fact that no one claimed responsibility only seems to heighten the tension. You don’t even have the consolation of knowing who to be afraid of.
Beltoise, however, has made up his mind.
“It’s your shipping certificate!” he yells, no longer caring who hears. “Your company’s letterhead! Your signature on the bloody thing! You think I will cover for that, you’re insane!”
I stand frozen for an endless moment, until words I never thought I’d hear myself say come tumbling out of my mouth.
“I didn’t do that! I’m innocent!”
And then, I run.
About the Author:
“Ted Krever is the real thing-he’s all about a clean line of prose, punchy dialogue and a plot as tight as a pimp’s hatband. Add to this a mordant sense of humor and you have a guy who can flat-out write.” – Thomas F. Monteleone, author of the NY Times bestseller The Blood of the Lamb and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel
Ted Krever watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, went to Woodstock (the good one), and graduated Sarah Lawrence College with a useless degree in creative writing.
He spent several decades creating programs for ABC News, CBS, CNN, A&E, Court TV, MTV News, Discovery People and CBS/48 Hours, and as VP/Production of a short-lived dotcom.
He has driven a 16-wheeler across the Rockies, shot overnight news in NY City, managed a revival-house movie theater and married twice, in a triumph of optimism.
He was once accused of attempting to blow up Ethel Kennedy with a Super-8 projector.