17 Captivating Books about Con Artists and Thieves

Books About Con Artists and Thieves
17 Captivating Books about Con Artists and Thieves 24

There is something so much fun about reading books about con artists and thieves. After all, it is something so far from the reality of our everyday lives.

And recently there has been a huge interest in these schemers. From the rise in movies like Catch Me If You Can and Inventing Anna, to the real-life con artists’ stories popping up in the news, it’s no wonder authors have been churning out books about thieves and con artists.

We’ve been enthralled by these stories of grifters, mob members, robbers, and pick-pockets, so we’ve shared our favorites with you.

Let us know if we missed any of your favorite con artist books!

*The books about thieves post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you.

Non-Fiction Books About Con Artists and Thieves

the art thief

The Art Thief by Michael Finkel

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a nonfiction book that read so much like fiction. Imagine 2 people driving around Europe casually stealing billions of dollars worth of art from the most famous galleries and museums in the world.

That’s what this book about thieves is all about. I was floored by the writing, but the story is one I wouldn’t believe if it wasn’t true. It’s a fast, compelling book that art lovers, mystery lovers, and true crime aficionados must read.

my friend anna

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel Deloache Williams

The story of Anna Delvey has inspired numerous con artist books because Anna successfully conned the New York Elite. Rachel’s story is her take on the Anna Delvey drama – it is a fleshed out version of her Vanity Fair article.

The book details how Delvey pretended to be a wealthy German heiress while conning her friend Rachel out of 60,000 dollars and almost getting them both arrested in Marrakesh.

It’s no wonder Netflix has taken this con artist’s story and turned it into a hit series.

catch me if you can

Catch Me if You Can by Frank Abignail Jr.

Frank Abignail Jr’s life is one that most people could never even imagine – running away from home, impersonating a pilot, lawyer, and doctor, and defrauding banks out of millions of dollars.

This is the story of how he got away with all of his cons and eventually got caught. It’s a truly fascinating book that reads like fiction.

Why We Like it: There is a reason this book inspired the hit movie starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio – it’s a story you wouldn’t believe if it wasn’t true.

Find this book in Con Artist Books / Plane Books / Feel-Good Nonfiction

Rogues

Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels, and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden Keefe is an award-winning author and it is clear why. He is a brilliant writer who meticulously researches his stories and whose writing is compelling.

This book about con artists and criminals includes stories featuring the almost unbelievable ways they committed their crimes. These 12 stories range from forging vintage wines to a black market arms dealer. Each story is more intriguing than the next on this list of ultimate beach reads 2023.

Books About Female Con Artists

The Frame up

The Frame-up by Gwenda Bond

Dani Poissant is the daughter of the world’s most famous art thief who happens to be in jail because Dani turned her in. Now, ten years later, she is approached for a once-in-a-lifetime heist that can make up for her past mistakes and reunite herself with her mother’s old gang which includes the love of her life and her former best friend. Can she pull off the heist? Oh, did I mention that the secret to their success is magic?

Why We Liked it: The magical realism of this story set it apart from other art heist novels, but the magical mechanisms should have been more greatly explored in the story. The more interesting part was Dani’s journey of self-discovery and her realizations about her relationship with her mother.

Find this Book in books about thieves, novels about art

The Grown Up and other Halloween thriller books

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

A short and C-R-E-E-P-Y haunted house book, I wanted to put down and continue at the same time.

When a woman pretending to be a psychic is hired to do an exorcism on a house, she learns that she just might believe in the supernatural after all.

It’s only 64 pages, but this Halloween thriller book will keep you up at night.

Cover story

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti

Like everyone, I fell deep into the Netflix show Inventing Anna. When I realized this story was about a similar tale, I knew it would be the perfect summer book about con artists!

Essentially it’s about an intern named Lora who was taken in by an Elle editor named Cat Wolff whose glamorous life quickly takes over her own. But is Cat who she claims to be or is she someone else entirely?

Let’s just say this is one of those books where you get to the end and you want to go back and re-read. I gasped when I read the final chapter of this pick from summer reads 2023.

Pretty Things

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

I love a good thriller, but I’ve found that they become predictable after a while. I adored Pretty Things because it kept me on my toes!

I loved that it is a dual narrative that switches between the grifter and the heiress she is trying to rob. The twists kept coming until I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or who was the person actually being conned.

I listened to this one, so I can tell you that the audiobook was one of my favorites of the year. This book about thieves takes place on the shores of Lake Tahoe which made it a perfect pick for our lake books post.

Books About Con Artists

The Art Forger and more of the best books by Jewish writers and authors

The Art Forger by B.A Shapiro

I read this book years ago and it is one that still resonates with me years later. Claire Roth is a young artist who has been blacklisted from the art community after being named “The Great Pretender”. Claire painted a picture for her former lover who claimed the work as his own. When he broke up with her from guilt, Claire tried and failed to claim the art as her own.

Years later, she is working as a painter who paints reproductions. When she is given a chance to forge a painting for $50,000 and her own private gallery show, claire jumps at the chance but does not realize what she is getting herself into. This is one of my favorite novels about art and is a must-read if you like con artist books.

best beach reads 2023

The Fraud Squad by Kyla Zhao

After reading a few heavier books this month, I craved a YA book that would put a smile on my face. Enter The Fraud Squad, a story about 2 socialites who team up to convince Singapore’s high society that working-class, Samantha is one of them to help her secure her dream job.

This name-dropping, bejeweled story is like Crazy Rich Asians for teens. It was fun to revisit Singaporean high society through the eyes of young adults. It is fluff and fun in the very best ways. This book about con artists is a pick from summer reads 2023.

Books About Thieves

The Mostly True Story

The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise

Tanner needs a place to live where she can sit and play video games to her heart’s content since she isn’t allowed to be at her house anymore. Louise Wilt’s daughter thinks she needs a caregiver.

Being Louise’s caregiver seems like the perfect gig for Tanner and the two ignore each other happily. When Tanner starts to notice that Louise has a close resemblance to a jewel thief and Louise suddenly insists on a road trip, their adventure begins.

I absolutely loved this book about thieves – or potential thieves. It was everything I hoped for and more. The relationship between Tanner and Louise develops as the characters develop. Is Louise the famed jewel thief from years ago? This jewelry novel is perfect for ultimate beach reads and is a feel-good book at its finest.

The Bandit Queens

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

Geeta lost her husband 5 years ago, but now her small Indian village thinks she killed him! The rumors have helped her for a few years, but now other local women are asking for her help in getting rid of their own husbands.

I found myself laughing at this band of friends and their antics. If you liked Dial A for Aunties, this book about thieves is for you. It is a perfect fit for our best books for summer 2023 post.

Portrait of a thief

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Billed as Ocean’s 11 meets The Farewell, I found myself most closely comparing it to The Italian Job and I LOVED IT.

5 college students is hired by a Beijing art company to steal back relics stolen from the Old Summer Palace by colonists and now on display in famous museums the world over.

Each person brings their talents (getaway driver, hacker, art historian, etc.) and their dreams of what the life-changing sum they’ve been offered can mean for themselves and their immigrant families.

While it might sound frivolous, it’s actually a novel about art with a more emotional vein running beneath. One of longing to fit in, the struggle of straddling two worlds, and the quest for individual and collective identity as Chinese-Americans.

the plot

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

What a ride! Jean Hanff Korelitz’s thriller is quite something. It’s one I just adored even if I did figure the big twist out early on. It’s the journey with this book.

Jacob is a formerly successful writer who is struggling to write his next great novel. His student Evan dies without having published his own incredible story, so Jacob decides to write it himself to great critical acclaim.

But then someone starts threatening to expose him for the theft of the story, launching him into the truth behind the tale he wrote about. This is the perfect story for our list of books about thieves!

YA Books About Con Artists and Thieves

the city of brass

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

I read this book a few years ago when we first started the blog. This book was one of the books that got me back into reading YA fantasy, one of my favorite genres to read.

This historical fantasy takes place in 18th-century Cairo. When Nahri accidentally summons Dara, a Djinn warrior, she is swept to Daevabad, the City of Brass.

Soon Nahri must learn who to trust in a city when magic cannot shield her from the danger that threatens from all around her. This is the first book in a three book YA fantasy series!

Artemis Fowl and more books like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl is a kid genius who is trying to utilize the power of fairies to find his father. With the help of his butler, they kidnap a fairy names Holly Short in order to restore his family’s fortune and find his power.

He underestimates the power of the fairies because he thinks that he is the smartest. This fantasy book for tweens is perfect for anyone who wants to see the villain’s perspective and root for them as well. These are the perfect books for Percy Jackson fans.

Thieves Gambit

Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis

I saw this book and was totally intrigued and let me say that I was not at all disappointed by this book. Ross Quest is a thief. In fact, she is one of the best thieves in the world along with her mother and Aunt. But Ross wants a different life and makes a plan to leave and live her own life.

When a job goes wrong and Ross’s mom is taken hostage, Ross must join in the Thieves’ gambit- a high-stakes heist against the best in the world to win the ultimate prize. Ross will have to decide if there is anyone she can trust. This book was definitely one of my favorite books of 2023.

Mob Novels

Queens of London

Queens of London by Heather Webb

This historical fiction book takes place in London in 1925. Alice Diamond is the head of an all-female gang, The Forty Elephants, and she has big plans for the group. Unfortunately for her, Lillian Wyles, the first female detective at Scotland Yard has her eye on the gang and she is looking for a way to bring them down.

Two other females are also central to the story – Dorothy, a naive shopgirl, and Hira, a young girl who runs away from her cruel uncle only to end up in Alice’s care.

Why We Liked it: Initially, the four narrators were hard to keep track of, but eventually this mob story came together with all the stories weaving into one. I couldn’t help but root for Hira, my favorite protagonist. #gifted by Sourcebooks

queen of thieves

Queen of Thieves by Beezy Marsh

Set in 1946, this gritty novel is about Alice, her band of female thieves, and Nell, the newest member of the gang. Nell is pregnant and trying to survive after her parents kick her out, but after Alice gets her locked up and she’s forced to give away her baby, she vows revenge on Alice.

Nell needs to keep her enemy close, so soon she’s back doing Alice’s bidding as she plots her revenge. The story was fun – the perfect reprieve for the stressful last week of school. This is a fun historical fiction mob novel.

Magnolia Parks

Magnolia Parks by Jessa Hastings

This #booktok sensation is full of toxic relationships, high fashion, and DRAMA. Is it the best-written book? No. Did I read all 430+ pages in one day? Hell yeah.

It’s basically Gossip Girl set in London High Society featuring a bunch of 20-somethings as they party, date, and globe-trot. Magnolia Parks and BJ Balletine’s relationship is at the heart of this toxic romance book, but there are tons of secondary characters with equally dramatic lives. It’s the first in what will be a 7-book series – they are the perfect summer reads!

The Family and more family drama books

The Family by Naomi Krupitsky

November 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

Set in the 30s and 40s in Red Hook, NY, this family drama story is about two girls born into the Italian Mafia. Sophia and Antonia are the best of friends, neighbors, and daughters of local mob members.

The story spans their childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood as they navigate their relationships with each other and “The Family.”

It was captivating and wonderful to learn about the lives of the women in the crime family. It’s a must-read mob novel because of how it addresses coming of age. Of all the friendship books on this list, this one is definitely the most unique.

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