Book Review: The Last Con

8 Jul


Former con man Fletcher Doyle is finally home after six years in the pen. He’s working a menial job, regaining his bearings in the world, and trying to revive his relationships with his wife and twelve-year-old daughter. No easy feat.

But when Fletcher and his family go on a mission trip to Detroit—in the company of the condescending church leader who also happens to be his landlord—Fletcher finds his old life waiting for him. Within hours of arriving in the city, he’s been blackmailed into doing a job for a mysterious criminal who calls himself The Alchemist.

A series of relics hidden by the Knights of Malta, as ancient as they are priceless, are in the sights of The Alchemist. What he needs is a gifted grifter with a background in ecclesiastical history . . . what he needs is Fletcher Doyle.

Between hiding his reawakened criminal life from his wife and trying to hide her from their relentless landlord, Fletcher is ready to give up. But when his family is drawn into the dangerous world he can’t shake, Fletcher is forced to rely on his years in the game to save the only people who mean more to him than the biggest con in history.


biopicCalled “the suspense author everyone is talking about” by Family Fiction Edge magazine, Zachary Bartels is the author of critically acclaimed supernatural thrillers. An award-winning preacher and Bible teacher, Zachary has been serving as pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan, for ten years. He enjoys film, fine cigars, stimulating conversation, gourmet coffee, reading, writing, and cycling.

His debut novel, Playing Saint, has been called an “intrigue-filled thriller” (Library Journal) and “a page-turner from the very beginning . . . gripping and realistic” (RT Book Reviews). His newest book, The Last Con (HarperCollins Christian Fiction, 2015) has met early positive reviews. He lives in the capital city of a mitten-shaped Midwestern state with his wife Erin and their son.


My Impressions:

 The Last Con is the first book I have read by Zachary Bartels. From what I experienced, I will definitely be reading his others. This novel is filled with mystery and suspense and enough bad guys to keep the reader guessing. With historic details that made me hit Google, a fast-paced and twisting plot and characters that I immediately connected with, this novel is a recommended read from me.

Fletcher, an ex-con and grifter, has been out of jail for just a short time. His family is still adjusting from the shock of his arrest and incarceration as well as their change in finances and home. Trust is a big issue, but Fletcher, his wife Meg and daughter Ivy are really trying to make their new normal work. But . . . with the addition of a concerned neighbor/landlord and temptations from his former life, Fletcher must decide just what is important and true.

I really liked Fletcher, the grifter who can’t decide if he grifted himself when it comes to his faith in Christ. Even before he gets involved with another con, Fletcher struggles with walking in faith without the rules of prison. A life in Christ is about freedom — from sin, from guilt, but also the freedom to make choices. Although most readers don’t struggle with returning to a life of crime ;), they will identify with the struggle of discerning God’s will and following it. Paul puts it this way in Romans 7:19 — For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. That’s Fletcher’s struggle as it is my own. Godly sorrow vs. worldly sorrow is also examined. The Last Con is also a great suspense novel — lots of shady and sinister actors, tense scenes involving breaking and entering, and a really good game of cat and mouse. You’ll never see the ending coming either. There is also a historical feature, including ancient Knights, kings, queens, and lost treasure, that intersects with the modern day story. There is enough truth in the story that it will make you wonder what if.

The Last Con is a safe bet for those who love suspense. You can’t lose with this one!


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


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