The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con

Amy Reading. Knopf, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-307-27248-5
This account of con artists and obsessive revenge is replete with dramatic twists and turns. With a fierce work ethic, 54-year-old Texas Panhandle rancher J. Frank Norfleet had accumulated a small fortune by 1919, but he lost it in a stock swindle run by Big Joe Furey’s gang of con men. In the opening chapter, Reading outlines in detail the psychological manipulations that led Norfleet to fall for the swindle, and she follows with a chapter on the origins and history of confidence men. Sensing the indifference of law enforcement officials, Norfleet resolved to track down the swindlers himself, and succeeded. With the con men finally behind bars, Norfleet became a celebrity and borrowed the style of dime novels to write his 1924 autobiography, Norfleet: The Actual Experiences of a Texas Rancher’s 30,000-Mile Transcontinental Chase After Five Confidence Men, a key source for Reading, who in her first book delivers vibrant characterizations based on her research in archives, scrapbooks, newspapers, and government documents. This narrative of vigilante justice flows like fiction, as con artistry is illuminated throughout, with resonance in today’s world of high-tech con artistry. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Mar. 7)
Reviewed on: 01/30/2012
Release date: 03/06/2012
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-0-307-47359-2
Open Ebook - 218 pages - 978-0-307-95761-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-98741-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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