The authors I love fall into two categories. The first consists of those I love but whose books always have me feeling a little bit worried that they won’t live up to my expectations. Most authors fall into that category. The second category (with only a few people in it) consists of those authors whose books I know I will love before I even know what the book is about. Will Ferguson is one of those authors. If you’ve never heard me rave about him before, let me just say this: the man is brilliant. No word of a lie. So when I say that I can’t say enough good stuff about this book, oh boy do I mean it.
Set in the 1930’s, Spanish Fly is the story of Jack, a young man who has grown up in Paradise Flats (a small town in the USA). His mother has passed away, his father is out of work and has lost all of their money on a con (though Jack’s father doesn’t realize that is what it is). When Virgil and Rose blow into Paradise Flats, conning a number of businesses in Jack’s town, Jack falls in with them naturally, and his education as a con man really begins.
Jack is such a likable character. Yes, he’s a con man, but he struggles with doing what is right and what is wrong. He’s smart and puzzles over things until he can figure out a way to find a solution to any problem. Plus, he makes references to both Dracula and Flash Gordon – and good job to Will Ferguson for writing in those references and making them seem natural. (Did not expect Dracula OR Flash Gordon references in this book, but it worked. It worked well.) And within a short span of time, Jack goes from being the student to surpassing both Virgil and Rose in their ability to work a con.
I knew the real reason that Virgil and Rose weren’t going to leave: they needed me. They needed me more than I needed them. From the false arrest to the Spanish Fly to the bank manager’s signature, I was the one who’d taken the game to its proper heights. They knew it, and so did I. It was a sad and liberating thought, the realization that they had no more lessons left to teach. It was me who had brought in the big money.
The whole story was so believable – I felt as if I was transported back to the 1930’s, watching news reels of Germany’s army advancing, going to Jazz clubs, and eating more pie than I ever thought possible. I’ve never been interested in con men before, but it was interesting to read the sort of things they did and got away with.
I seriously loved this book, it was fabulous, and I highly recommend it to anyone who . . . well, to everyone really. As I said before, I cannot say too many good things about this book. Will Ferguson is positively brilliant, and Spanish Fly is no exception whatsoever.
This is my sixth book for the Canadian book challenge.