Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shape-shifters of the Female Persuasion

Tori Telfer. Harper Perennial, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-295603-3
In this compulsively readable account, Telfer (Lady Killers) delivers a darkly humorous tale of some of the most outrageous con women who ever scammed the public. Her subjects range from Jeanne de Saint-Rémy, who engineered a scheme in 18th-century France involving a cardinal, a diamond necklace, and Marie Antoinette that led to a scandal and contributed to the fall of the French monarchy, to Bonny Lee Bakley, who ran a mail-order porn scam, conned actor Robert Blake into marrying her—and wound up murdered for it in 2001. In the early part of the 20th century, there were hundreds of fake Anastasias, purporting to be the Russian princess, who bilked believers out of money, apartments, cars, and furs. More recently, Telfer writes, fake spiritualists and mediums have swindled the American public out of $2.1 billion a year, among them Rose Marks, who gave spiritual advice to romance novelist Jude Deveraux to the tune of $17 million from 1991 to 2008. Then there’s Alicia Head, who had a horrifying story of surviving 9/11 that made her famous and the leader of a survivor network. It wasn’t until 2007 that the New York Times outed Head as a fake who wasn’t even in the country on 9/11. Assured prose complements the vivid portraits. True crime fans are in for a treat. Agent: Erin Hosier, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/20/2020
Release date: 02/23/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-295604-0
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-06-306513-0
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