From the BLURB:
‘The secret to having people give you money is to act as though you don’t want it.’
Meet Ella Canfield, highly qualified evolutionary biologist. Attractive, if a little serious-looking in those heavy glasses—but then she’s about to put her career on the line. Dr Canfield is seeking funding for a highly unorthodox research project. She wants to prove that an extinct animal still roams in one of Australia’s most popular national parks.
Meet Daniel Metcalf, good-looking, expensively dishevelled millionaire. Quite witty but far too rich to be taken seriously. He heads the Metcalf Trust, which donates money to offbeat scientific research projects. He has a personal interest in animals that don’t exist.
Problem number one: There is no such person as Dr Ella Canfield.
Problem number two: Della Gilmore, professional con artist, has never met anyone like Daniel Metcalf before.
Someone is going to take a fall.
‘Fall Girl’ was the 2011 novel from Australian author, Toni Jordan.
Yes – this is my newfound Toni Jordan obsession continuing. Deliciously. Deliriously. Thanks to the character of Della Gilmore.
‘Fall Girl’ is indeed all about a family of scam-artists (emphasis on *artist*) and young woman Della who had a most unconventional upbringing, learning from her Fagin-esque father all the tricks of the scam trade. When we meet her she’s in the midst of her biggest haul yet – for a scientific grant being offered by the handsome millionaire, Daniel Metcalf. Della is posing as a scientist on the hunt for the biggest breakthrough of the decade – the Tasmanian Tiger.
What follows is a Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn type romance that also reminded me of nothing so much as the brilliant (if underrated, in my opinion) 2015 film ‘Focus’ starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Maybe with a smattering of 2004 British TV show ‘Hustle’ thrown in for good measure.
I’ve really gone from 0 to 100 with Toni Jordan – who I think I can now confidently count as one of my favourite authors. Hands down. ‘Fall Girl’ cemented the deal for me – a sexy and clever caper, that kind of reads like a magic trick (or another sleight of hand) … she waggles this high-stakes scam with a searing romance running underneath as the heart of the plot, but at the same time she’s unearthing a family drama and delicate character portrayals of an unconventional family unit, out of time and out of step with a changing world. I loved it.
I still have one more Toni Jordan book to read – her first historical novel ‘Nine Days’ – which I know will be a real change of pace, but one I’m curious to read. And after that …? I think I’ll become rather desperate for my next fix!