Praise for King Con


Amazon.com "Best Books of the Month" choice for August 2018

Crimereads "Essential True Crime Books" for August 2018

Saga magazine "Non-Fiction Book of the Month" for August 2018


"This Jazz Age imposter's life makes for quite a story, and in King Con, Paul Willetts knows just how to tell it."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

"The absorbing take of a Jazz Age grifter named Edgar Laplante… brings fresh significance to the ancient profession of the con artist… Willetts weaves a fast-paced, intriguing tale. With the rise of identity theft, celebrity worship, and manipulative social media, this sprightly story of a legendary con artist's outrageous successes becomes a cautionary tale for the digital age."Kirkus Reviews

"Paul Willetts tells the intricate story of Edgar Laplante's misadventures and complicated swindles, drawing an expert portrait of both the time period and the man. It's a useful reminder that America has always belonged to the con artist."—Crimereads.com

King Con is as engaging, ambitious, and colorful as its shady protagonist… Willetts has dug deep into newspaper archives and investigative files to accomplish what the authorities on two continents failed to do almost a century ago—unravel Laplante’s trail of brazen fraud and deceit.”Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

"A story so bizarre—and compulsively told—that my jaw remained anchored to the floor throughout."—John Preston, bestselling author of A Very English Scandal and The Dig

"…a minutely detailed study of a man who is enjoyable to read about, but whom no one with a full complement of senses would ever wish to encounter… The author pins down his egregious subject with crisp objectivity."—Jonathan Meades, Country Life

"King Con is about Edgar Laplante, an extraordinary man whom Paul Willetts brings to life. It says 'rollicking' on the back cover quite a few times. It's a rollicking read. I feel rollicked."—Jason Solomons, BBC London

“The 1920s was a decade of swindles—and one con artist out tricked them all… this is a story about unscrupulous deception told with a scrupulosity that is admirable.”The New Statesman

"A fast-moving tale of an inveterate scammer, which is every bit as gripping as fiction."Saga magazine

"Willetts's research is impeccable. He also writes clean, fluid prose and his descriptions of Paris, Naples and Florence in the 1920s are superb."—Winnipeg Free Press

"[Edgar Laplante's] extraordinary story is the subject of Paul Willetts's new book, written, as with his previous books, including Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms and Members Only (filmed, starring Steve Coogan, as The Look of Love) with all the detail and narrative drive of a novel."—Simon Evans, Choice magazine

"Amazing, absorbing, and phenomenally well-researched, King Con is a compelling story that proves truth is far, far stranger than fiction: a picture of an America so naîve and gullible it's hard to imagine. Not a page is turned without the reader learning something that astonishes and enthralls."—Paul French, New York Times bestselling author of Midnight in Peking

"Paul Willetts's King Con takes readers on a rollicking ride—a tale of fake celebrity and ingenious cons by an inventive Jazz Age grifter that resonate across the decades to this particular moment in America with an unsettling relevance. Readers will be amused, entranced, and, I'm certain, left shaken."—Howard Blum, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Goodnight and In the Enemy's House

"Paul Willetts's King Con is one hell of a rollicking good read. A fabulous tale of one of the all-time great con artists, pulled off with great verve and style. A Jazz Age classic!"—Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of Avenue of Spies and The Liberator

"Anyone who thinks celebrity culture is a new phenomenon should read King Con. Drawing on a vast range of sources, Willetts has pieced together a rich and bizarre Jazz Age story of the century's most shameless confidence trickster… The cons are astounding but the escapes are even more outrageous. Whether he's peddling postcards or hoodwinking royalty, Laplante remains a fascinating figure. A brilliant feat of research is turned into a racing read."—Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant and May series of crime novels

"Think Charles Ponzi was slick? Edgar Laplante, a.k.a. Chief White Elk, was an imposter extraordinaire who hoodwinked audiences and newspaper readers across America and Europe. Paul Willetts spins the rollicking tale of this audacious conman with wit, razor-sharp insight, and dazzling storytelling. Hang on for a wild ride…"—Dean Jobb, author of Empire of Deception

"King Con is a riveting account of a Jazz Age grifter whose grandiose ruse of a life can only be described as fascinatingly ludicrous! A mesmerising and enjoyable read."—Suzanne Rindell, bestselling author of The Other Typist and Eagle and Crane

"You might justifiably pick up King Con to travel back in time to the ultra-charming Jazz Age, but long after you've been pulled into the vortex of this riveting and deliciously strange tale, what will stick with you is the astonishing audacity of Edgar Laplante's all-consuming, decade-plus-long grift. An uproarious read."—Dave Howard, author of Chasing Phil and Last Rights

"A terrific subject, crying out to be turned into a film, and the author has made the most of it in this gripping and well-researched book."Andrew Lownie, author of Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring

"In this extensively detailed biography, Willetts traces the brazen and bizarre life of Edgar Laplante, an early twentieth-century drifter and conman extraordinaire… [Willetts] keeps the narrative alive with colourful anecdotes from Laplante's remarkable life."Publishers' Weekly

Using Format