BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Con Artists by Luke Healy [in Shelf Awareness]

The prologue alone to Luke Healy’s sharp, skilled The Con Artists is a wow-inducing example of show-don’t-tell genius. “Oh, hello. I’m Luke Healy, the author of this book. No big deal,” he modestly introduces himself. As he reads “a prepared statement” – the usual “entirely fictional … purely coincidental” disclaimer, albeit embellished with clever snark about Shakespeare’s “very robust brand” compared with his own relatively prosaic name, shared with an actor, singer, TV character – his stand-in, rendered in fine line, seems to float from comfy armchair to makeup to wardrobe, to transform into the fictional protagonist who opens Chapter 1.

Sitting in a London café, Frank is setting his goals with his bff: “The year we become famous comedians … find true love … start therapy, and don’t kill our house plants.” But a rare phone call from his childhood friend Giorgio, whom he sees for dinner maybe twice a year, derails his careful plans. Giorgio’s been hit by a bus. Somehow he “just knew” Frank would come to the hospital, be helpful, even become his live-in caretaker. In such close quarters, the all-togetherness Giorgio displays on Instagram, which Frank had “just assumed … was all true,” proves anything but.

Healy’s strikingly simple black/white/grey line-drawn panels belie a complex examination of the eponymous con artists, clouded by self-delusion, enabled by social media. While centering Frank and Giorgio’s devolving relationship, Healy also interjects Frank’s stand-up sets and therapy sessions – both painful and illuminating to witness. Unlike his struggling, often sophomoric, characters, Healy shows himself to be quite the sophisticated graphic storyteller.

Review: “Graphic Books,” Shelf Awareness, July 22, 2022

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2022


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