The Confidence Games

Tess Amy

Berkley Pub

July 9th, 2024

The Confidence Games by Tess Amy is a thoroughly entertaining read. Readers will fall in love with the characters and even though they are con artists, will root for them.  There are hidden truths, friendships, the true meaning of family, and a suspenseful mystery.

Emma Oxley and Nellie Yarrow were inseparable friends until Emma got engaged. After her fiancé ditched her, who should show up to help her recover, Nellie.  They now decide to reinvent themselves by changing their names and wiping clean any digital footprints.   Emma and Nellie make a name for themselves on the Goods Exchange International, which is Europe’s biggest Black Market by playing mind games, swindling, and conning people. They made tons of money after picking people’s pockets. Influenced by their backstories they adhere to only two rules: they will only swindle men, and only ones who deserve it. Known as the Dream Team they make a reputation for themselves. Everything was going great until Nellie is kidnapped, and Emma is forced to steal the Heart of Envy, a piece of jewelry that is being displayed in a London Museum, if she wants to see Nellie alive again. 

The supporting characters are just as enchanting as the main characters.  There is Dax the duo’s resident computer expert and Sophia, a ten-year-old girl who delivers the ransom note.  But both Dax and Sophia are also endangered.

This story takes readers on a roller coaster ride, full of twists and turns. It is a suspenseful character driven story that people will love.  The only problem is that this is a stand-alone and there might not be any more stories.  After reading the book, people are going to clamor and plead for more adventures with these characters.

Elise Cooper: Idea for the story?

Amy Tess:  I was living in Italy.  My inspiration comes from small nuggets out of nowhere. I was walking around the city at night.  I saw two girlfriends huddled together and wondered why one of them was wearing a big heavy coat in the middle of summer. It appeared something was hidden under the coat.  I kept thinking afterward, what were they thinking and what were they hiding. I wrote a note to myself: book idea of two friends who were con artists. I enjoy the idea of exploring female friendships.

EC: How would you describe Nellie?

AT: She is strong-willed, a liar, independent, courageous, trusting, and vulnerable. She suffered through horrific abuse in her past. The way she deals with it is to build up resilience and made it her life’s mission to seek out revenge for others. She becomes this Robin Hood-like figure where she believes she is righting wrongs by stealing from bad men. At her core she is a good person.  Throughout the book she learns to address this anger she was holding on to because of her past. Her abuse has influenced how she sees the world. 

EC: How would you describe Emma?

AT: She is sad, detailed, a planner, confident, organized, likes to be in control, analytical, and is not very trusting.  She has suffered through heartbreak.  The way she deals with it is to hide who she really is and withdraw. She hides who she really is because she is afraid of getting hurt again.  She sees heartbreak as a risk to be avoided at all costs. 

EC:  How would you describe what they do?

AT:  This book quote explains, “We never cross anyone who didn’t deserve it.” This is their belief system, that they are doing bad things to bad people. They are con artists who play mind games, thieves who use focus, deceit, and manipulation. Basically swindlers. Personally, I like to explore this grey area between what is right and wrong. 

EC:  What was the role of Dax?

AT:  He is the tech expert of the team. He does not believe in his own skills.  Nellie and Emma give him a professional push.  

EC:  What about the little girl Sophia?

AT: She is trusting, hopeful, someone who has had a lot of rejection and disappointment. I saw her as a mirror to Emma.  They both had a lot of betrayal, yet Sophia is upbeat and very trusting.  She was a guiding light for Emma.

EC:  The role of family?

AT:  They all become a family.  All of them have an issue with their own family so they become their own family, joining together to support one another.

EC: How would you describe the head bad guy?

AT: He likes to play mind games and is tricky. He humiliates, is mean, and is a liar. Once again, with him readers see how the line between good and bad is blurred.

EC:  What about the relationship between Nellie and Emma?

AT: They can read each other’s minds, loyal, will always help each other and look after each other.  They are life long best friends.  The only people they can trust is each other. They have platonic love between each other. 

EC:  What is the role of Sophia’s Book of Good Advice?

AT: It was fun for me to write. It was mostly to show Sophia’s wisdom without making her too pretentious. I came up with these quotes.

EC:  Next Book?

AT:  As of now this book will not be a series but I do like to leave it open-ended.  My next book will not be related to this book.  It will be out in July of next year, set in a women’s prison. It is a locked-room mystery where a murder occurs.




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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.