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Drake's Fortune

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There seem to be a lot of contenders out there for the title of The World’s Greatest Confidence Artist, but Rayner’s grifting antihero is the heavyweight champ. Coming on the heels of Darin Strauss’ similarly snake-oil-themed The Real McCoy, Rayner’s history chronicles the exploits of Oscar Hartzell, who for 20 years ran one of the most mind-boggling scams ever to hoodwink the American public. Claiming to be the executor of Sir Francis Drake’s fortune, he conned penny-ante Midwesterners into parting with their savings for a piece of the estate. And as the Great Depression kicked in, his dupes remained steadfast in their gullibility while Hartzell was living it up in London, dining with royalty on their dime. Even when Hartzell was finally collared, his victims refused to see the light. There must be some Enron exec out there who got an advance copy of this thing.