Title: Master of the Scam
Author: Aaron T. Knight
Genre: Historical Fiction
In Master of the Scam, twenty-five-year-old Jack Wagner is injured in a car accident, changing his life forever. When he goes to court in the hopes of receiving compensation for his injuries, he discovers that the insurance companies are bribing witnesses to falsify testimonies, destroying his chances of receiving any justice. A once prideful man, Jack’s heart hardens as he resorts to accepting a new business venture that will not only get him the money he deserves, but will get revenge on those who ruined him.
The car accident and the resulting injuries are a turning point for Jack. No longer sure of what his future looks like, he finds himself deeply contemplating his life. Knight expertly intertwines the most important expositional information into these moments where Jack hits rock-bottom. Because readers are able to peer into Jack’s lonely and often sad mind, it is easy to empathize with him. Jack’s character is very dynamic, and we see a lot of growth over the course of the novel, making him by far the most complex, developed, and well-rounded character in the book.
One of the strongest qualities of the book is that the stakes are set high from the start. Not only is there immediate danger at the surface, but there’s also underlying tension that further emphasizes the severity of Jack’s situation. Readers will easily become invested in the story and its characters especially as they get further into the novel and even more conflict is created through the passage of time.
Though readers will still be able to follow along with the plot, there are some inconsistent changes in perspective that break up the flow of the writing. Dividing the book into larger sections or “parts” and dedicating those parts to one specific character’s perspective would make the writing clearer as well as help further develop some of the other characters.
Unfortunately, the characters that are in most need of development are the female characters. Despite their impact on the men’s lives, they are given side roles in the novel and lack voices of their own. They seem to only be included in the story because of their relationships to the men, not because of their character’s own value.
One of the women, who we never meet, is even named “that woman.” She is repeatedly referred to as “that woman,” and we never learn her actual name nor do we know if the stories told about her are true. It’s unclear why “that woman’s” character is included in the novel at all, but it’s one of the strongest examples of how the female characters’ main purpose in the novel is to develop the male characters, rather than themselves.
Knight’s writing transports us back to 1937. Still heavily impacted by the Depression and full of rising tension across the world as Hitler’s influence grows, the state of the world is under constant pressure from the opposing forces from the past and the present. The time period mirrors Jack’s own life experience and adds even more suspense and anxiety as the impending doom from the future creeps closer.
Fast-paced and action-packed, Master of the Scam is a thrilling work of historical fiction.
With a unique plot and a diverse cast of characters, Master of the Scam takes readers into the alluring world of con games, schemes, and scams. In Master of the Scam, readers will learn the true meaning behind the phrase “the bigger they come, the harder they fall” as they speed through this novel full of high stakes and high rewards.
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