I’m delighted to introduce A Talent for Trickery, the first book in my new Victorian-set “Thief-takers” series. Our hero, Private Investigator Owen Renderwell, is on the hunt for a thief and murderer. And he knows just how to catch his man. All he needs is a little help from our heroine, Miss Charlotte Walker-Bales. The daughter of an infamous confidence man, Lottie is in a unique position to offer insight into the mind and motives of a hardened criminal. There’s just one flaw in Owen’s otherwise excellent plan. Lottie hasn’t spoken to him in eight years. She has no interest in working alongside a man of the law, and certainly not the one who betrayed her trust, endangered her family, and broke her heart.
To celebrate Lottie’s unusual background, I’ve compiled a list of my top five Lady Thieves.
Listed in no particular order…
1. Sheila from the 80’s animated Dungeons and Dragons. Okay, Diana was, overall, a better character, but at age nine, I would have given anything for that thief’s cloak of invisibility.
2. Doris Payne, international jewel thief extraordinaire. Whether you like her, loathe her, or are just plain baffled by her, there is no denying she is one fascinating woman. At the estimated age of 85, she is still (allegedly) employing her craft.
3. “Little” Annie Reilly, renowned 19th century confidence woman. Annie’s MO (or one of them) was to use her charm and wits to gain employment as a children’s nurse in some of America’s wealthiest East Coast families. She would stay a day or two in her new position, then rob the family of all their jewelry. Essentially, she was Mary Poppins’s evil doppelganger.
4. Ching Shih (born Shi Xianggu), early 19th century pirate. A perfectly terrifying woman who ruled the South China Sea with the estimated 20-40k pirates under her command, Ching Shih also has the distinction of being one of the few pirates whose career did not come to an abrupt stop at the end of a sword, noose, plank or bullet. She opted instead for retirement.
*If you haven’t yet seen the movie Dirty, Rotten, Scoundrels and plan to in the future, read no further. There are spoilers ahead.*
5. Janet Colgate, aka the Jackal, played by Glenne Headly in the 1988 film Dirty, Rotten, Scoundrels. This movie is a bit dated, and my adult self is embarrassed to have laughed at some of the scenes my teenage self found so funny. But I will always love Janet for how well she played her would-be tricksters.
About Alissa Johnson
Alissa Johnson is a RITA-nominated author of historical romance. She grew up on Air Force bases and attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She currently resides in the Arkansan Ozarks where she spends her free time keeping her Aussie dog busy, visiting with family, and dabbling in archery.
About A Talent For Trickery
Years ago, Owen Renderwell earned acclaim-and a title-for the dashing rescue of a kidnapped duchess. But only a select few knew that Scotland Yard's most famous detective was working alongside London's most infamous thief...and his criminally brilliant daughter, Charlotte Walker.
Lottie was like no other woman in Victorian England. She challenged him. She dazzled him. She questioned everything he believed and everything he was, and he has never wanted anyone more. And then he lost her.
Now a private detective on the trail of a murderer, Owen has stormed back into Lottie's life. She knows that no matter what they may pretend, he will always be a man of the law and she a criminal. Yet whenever he's near, Owen has a way of making things complicated...and long for a future that can never be theirs.