Book Review: The Con Artist By Fred Van Lente
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The Con Artist
Paperback | Kindle
Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Tom Fowler
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release date: July 10, 2018

Mike Mason lives at conventions… literally. He loves the feeling of creating something from nothing, at the behest of fans of his art. When he arrives at the biggest con of the year, San Diego Comic-Con, he has to face his ex-wife and the man she cheated on him with, plus he’s hit with the news that his mentor, Ben K, has died. If only that was the worst of it! Spontaneous actions coupled with alcohol leaves Mike with little recollection of the night before. If only Danny hadn’t gone and died during that time! Now a suspect, Mike is on his own case, tracking down his alibi and sketching the clues. Can he elude the fuzz and various enemies long enough to solve the crime before he is arrested?

More below on The Con Artist by Fred Van Lente.

Fred Van Lente (Ten Dead Comedians) sucks you into the frenetic energy of the giant monster known as San Diego Comic-Con with his imagery and actual sketches (provided by comic artist Tom Fowler). The descriptions of the scenery and characters he encounters and/or runs by can only be found in the actual supernatural or the pseudo-supernatural found at conventions. Where else can the sentences…

“Masked luchadores hurled each other onto a raised mat with teeth-rattling crashes; hooded dwarf wrestlers did the same with slightly less noise–but only slightly. A LEGO airship covered in stunted wizard limbed wizards and cyborgs quietly traced parabolas in the air above the company’s plastic wonderland of a booth.”

…be found? Only at a convention, or as the setting of The Con Artist. I felt as if I was running from the cops, the murderer, the fans, and myself just like Mike was. For a medium-sized novel, it had the uniqueness of being verbally dense, but really quick to read. I thoroughly enjoyed Mike’s many flaws, both as an investigator and as a person.

I did want two of the minor characters to have more of a tie-in to the crime solution, but all in all, the book satisfies as a murder mystery with enough complications and left turns to keep it a compelling page turner.


This illustrated mystery will appeal to comic book fans and anyone who appreciates an unconventional whodunit.

Comic book artist Mike Mason arrives at San Diego Comic-Con, seeking sanctuary with other fans and creators””and maybe to reunite with his ex””but when his rival is found murdered, he becomes the prime suspect. To clear his name, Mike will have to navigate every corner of the con, from zombie obstacle courses and cosplay flash mobs to intrusive fans and obsessive collectors, in the process unraveling a dark secret behind one of the industry’s most legendary creators.

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