Thomas Donne is a World War I veteran and the year is 1928. He is new to San Francisco and counting his last dollars until he will be completely broke. Thomas loved once and lost, and he can’t exactly advertise he could be looking for companionship. As a private investigator, Thomas needs his next case and takes what appears to be a simple job of finding the address of a man that has gone missing.
Abraham Ferencz is a magician and a con artist. He makes his audiences believe he can speak to the dead and they gladly pay his fee for entertainment and piece of mind. But not everything is a con and Abe has traveled a lot of miles to drown out the very real spirits that visit him, all to no avail.
When Thomas finds out that Abe had a connection to the missing man, the two men work together, but Thomas keeps finding more bodies. The men are attracted to each other, but every step they make toward each other could be their last.
Conned is the sixth book in Fielding’s Bureau series. I have read only one book in the series, and had a harder time making that one work as a standalone, but Conned works fine on its own. The book is set in the 1920s and we have two men living in America through different circumstances.
When Thomas is approached by a wealthy man, he knows there is more to the story he is told, but he needs the money. This leads Thomas to a murder and then to Abe. Abe came to America with his parents when he was a young boy and he keeps close ties to his Jewish heritage. He knows how and where to get the alcohol that eases the constant ache in his head from spirits trying to be heard. Abe isn’t quiet or shy about the fact that he likes men and that he also finds Thomas attractive.
The book is primarily about the men finding bodies and then trying to find the killer without being killed themselves. The magic and the paranormal vibe are always interesting to me but, halfway through, this book got really slow for me. By the end, the paranormal aspect became a little convoluted and, while I understand that a magician can’t reveal all of their tricks, there were some things that were not clear enough for me to pull together exactly all that had happened.
The personal relationship here between Thomas and Abe is matter of fact and happens fast. While I can understand a relationship happening quickly given the circumstances and the time period, I wasn’t feeling anything more than a lukewarm attraction between the men.
The Bureau plays a role here, as well, and given the time frame of 1928, it may be some of the earliest references to the Bureau in the series as a whole. If you enjoy this series, Conned, adds another adventure for paranormal investigations.