Grift by: Jason Mosberg

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Why would a 17-year-old girl pretend to be a high class escort?

Piper is a con artist whose canvas is the city of Las Vegas. She rolls with a crew of young grifters including a card-counting genius, a tourist-hustling pool shark, and a pocket-picking magician. Together, this crew of teenage outlaws live with their mentor Max in the penthouse of a hotel casino. They work hard and play harder. But unlike the others, Piper must balance her hyper-real Vegas fantasy with the reality of raising her 14-year-old half-sister Sophie. Disaster strikes when the Las Vegas mafia kidnaps Sophie and demands a multimillion-dollar ransom. With only five days to piece together the money, the crew races the clock to save her.

 

 

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My Review

Piper is a 17 year old con-artist in Las Vegas living in a top floor penthouse in the Treasure Island hotel near the strip with 4 young con-artists, their mentor and surrogate father, Max, and her 14 year old sister, Sophie.

Piper and the rest of group work for Max by luring tourists from their money using various scams and in turn Max provides a place to live and coaches them in their respective trade. Piper works by exploiting men as a high-end escort. She seduces men into a hotel room and takes their money without providing any service. While her roommates spend their money on whatever their heart desires, Piper saves all her money so she can leave Las Vegas and give her sister a more normal life.

One evening, Piper comes home to a beaten and bloody Max, thousands of dollars missing and her sister kidnapped! The ransom demanded puts the group in a frenzy – can they con enough money to save her?

I enjoyed this book. While I believe the plot in this book, in one way or another, had been done, I was excited to see a twist with the main character being a young female. When I began reading, I had a distinct feeling of reading a fairy tale with the characters coming from nothing, finding Max and then having everything they could ever want. However, that feeling is short lived as the characters join together to bring Sophie home. The story had potential: a strong lead character, a love interest, internal conflict, external conflict, but falls short with supporting character development and overall execution.

The additional roommates and even Max himself fall seem like ghosts, appearing only to help further Piper’s cause of rescuing her sister. Having an illustrated back story for the group would have helped the reader feel the familial relations rather than being told (“show don’t tell.”)

Which leads to my next point, execution. When writing a story with a twist or mystery, it is important to leave proper bread crumbs of foreshadowing and misleading clues to keep the reader guessing. Unfortunately, with this book the plot was a bit transparent.

I still enjoyed reading about the trials and tribulations as the group fought to collect $1,000,000 in 36 hours. It was exciting and well thought out. A promising beginning for Jason Mosberg.

-JL

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