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Thursday, April 7, 2022

Criminal Charm

A con man is only as good as his charm. Frank William Abagnale, reincarnated by Leonardo DiCaprio in "Catch Me if You Can," inhabited half a dozen identities by the time he was 21 and did so with such brio that he was able to fool hundreds. Charles Ponzi was a dapper operator who tooled around in a Locmobile. And Ronnie Cornwell, the father of the novelist John le Carre, was an insurance fraudster who latter became the model for the charismatic Rick Pym in le Carre's A Perfect Spy. The most famous image of Cornwell shows him in top hat and buttonhole striding confidently through a top-class English crowd, with a look of knowing concentration mixed with an offhand breeziness. You can feel the charm coming off the image.

Lawrence Osborne, The New York Times Book Review, March 8, 2020

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