Guest Victoria Thompson

Edith here, so happy I have another Counterfeit Lady mystery to read! Victoria Thompson joins us today to present City of Schemes.

Here’s the blurb:

The Great War is over, and Elizabeth and Gideon are busily planning their wedding and welcoming home old friends now discharged from the army. One of them, Captain Logan Carstens, the son and heir of a wealthy family, seems less than happy to be home and with good reason. While Logan was in France, he fell in love with a beautiful French woman named Noelle. He desperately wanted to propose, but he was already engaged and felt bound to honor his commitment.

When Logan receives a letter supposedly from Noelle begging for money to help her flee the terrible conditions in France and come to America, Elizabeth is suspicious. There is no way to verify the letter is actually from Noelle, and she fears that a con man or woman might be trying to take advantage of Logan in his vulnerable state. 

But that is not all Elizabeth has to worry about. Vicious thug Oscar Thornton has gotten wind of her wedding announcement and realizes the woman who conned him is still alive and well. Gideon and Elizabeth have to figure out a way to help their friend while making sure their worst enemy does not destroy their future. . . 

Take it away, Victoria!

Have you ever wondered how writers come up with their clever plots? Well, sometimes it is by sheer accident!  That’s what happened to me when I was writing my new Counterfeit Lady book, City of Schemes.  As you may already know, the series features the adventures of reformed con artist Elizabeth Miles. Elizabeth now uses her skills to help people with problems for which the law cannot get them justice. I’ve been wanting to use the Spanish Prisoner con in one of these stories, so I started with that one.  A returning soldier is asked to send a large sum of money to help a young woman he knew in France during the war escape to America, but is she really the one making the request?  Elizabeth and her fiancé Gideon Bates must help him!

But now that the war is over, Elizabeth is also planning her wedding to Gideon.  What would she fear most about marrying Gideon? Why, having her old nemesis, Oscar Thornton, see the wedding announcement in the newspaper and realize she isn’t dead, as he believed.  Sure enough, he does, and he returns to blackmail her. She must figure out how to con Thornton and eliminate him as a threat to her and Gideon once and for all.

Then there’s the problem of Gideon’s dear friend being engaged to a perfectly horrible woman when he really wants to marry someone else. Shouldn’t she help him as well?

Before I knew it, Elizabeth was involved in three very complex cons.  What fun!  I was halfway through the book, and then I realized that each of the cons could be satisfactorily tied up with about one page of dialogue.  Oops!  The book would be way too short if I did that, so I sat down with a piece of paper and a pencil and actually drew a chart of each con and who was involved and where they overlapped. Suddenly, I saw the second half of the book coming together as Elizabeth used all the players and their situations to make everything come out right.

Will Elizabeth and Gideon’s wedding come off without a hitch? Do you even need to ask?

Fortunately, most of us have no personal experience with con artists, but the internet has opened many new opportunities for people to be cheated.

Readers: what warnings have you found most helpful in avoiding online scams?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of City of Schemes.

Victoria Thompson is the USA Today bestselling author of the Edgar® and Agatha Award nominated Gaslight Mystery Series and the Sue Grafton Memorial Award finalist Counterfeit Lady Series. She has published 26 mysteries. She currently teaches in the Master’s program for writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

Contact her at:

Facebook: Victoria.Thompson.Author

Twitter: #gaslightvt

44 Thoughts

  1. Oooh, this book sounds great! I never trust anyone who has to ask for information that they should have if they are legitimate, or any site that asks for SS#, credit card info, or any other identification info. I also check for legitimate URLs. Basically, I don’t trust any site that I haven’t gone to on my own.

  2. The book sounds delicious, Victoria. The perfect story for these unsettled times.

    In response to your question, what Ginny said. If I didn’t initiate the contact – I don’t click on the link in e-mails. Then again, if I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer the phone either. Essentially, I’m suspicious!

  3. Victoria, congratulations on your new book!

    As for avoiding online scams, I’ve found the best way is to just assume any kind of offer I receive from a source that I didn’t initially contact is a scam and just delete the offers. I mean, I don’t know any Nigerian warlords, I have no relatives that have been jailed and let’s not even get into the various sexual scams that invariably make their way to my spam folder.

  4. Congrats on your new book. When I get emails from places I deal with I always check the address from where it is sent from. If it’s from a foreign country and has a bunch of mixed up letters, then it’s scam. I usually don’t answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number. If they want to talk to me they can leave a message and I’ll call them back. Many years ago I had been scammed and I swear it will never happen to me again. Thank you so much for this chance. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  5. Congrats on your book release.
    If I get an email from people I don’t know, I hover over the “from” and then the links. I never click on links, I’ll go straight to the website. I let all unknown calls go to voice mail. I also have a robo blocker (95% accurate).

  6. “City of Schemes” sounds absolutely amazing! Since purple is my favorite color, you know I love the cover. 🙂 Can’t wait for the opportunity to read this book on my TBR list.

    After my best friend’s husband had his identity stolen and seeing the hassle and worry they had to go through to straighten things out, I’d say being very cautious about giving out personal information. Sometimes even that that seems innocent enough can help the criminal in his attempt to become you. With so much information on the internet freely open to anyone, they can piece together information from several different places to complete a whole person. So an email address here, an physical address here or a age and sex info here can eventually be put together to become you.

    Then I would say that even if you know or person or company, never reply to an email sent. Emails and Facebook accounts can be cloned. Instead, if I get such a correspondence, I either email through my own sources or pick up the phone and call. Even this week, I had a personal message from an author saying I had won a contest. But they wanted my credit card number to verify me to send out my prize. Instead of complying or answering, I went directly to author’s Facebook page and sent them a message. She confirmed it was a clones account and had been taken down. However, I saw that several had complied because they had done the last step to “qualify” by posting done on the link they sent. Sad!

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy! Shared and hoping to be that very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. I was so excited to get the call from my indy bookstore yesterday that my copy is in!

    I actually missed several emails from a new doctor’s office recently. I’d ask them to send the notes from my visit. I kept wondering why they hadn’t sent them and kept checking my spam folder. They were there but with nothing to indicate it was from Atlantic Orthopedics, so I didn’t open them. Took some detective work to track them down.

  8. I really need to catch up on these books. This sounds delicious.

    The best new defense is the best old defense: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  9. Good morning, I’m a big fan of your books. City of Schemes sounds like another great one! I sometimes think I can tell a scam pretty easily… they called or emailed me. Very jaded, I know. As I have aged, my circle of friends has diminished, sad to say. So I know pretty much who is going to contact me. I have had a couple of the classics- “Hi Grandma,I’m in jail.” (I have no children.) & “Your Social Security # has been stolen.” ( SS doesn’t ever call you. ) I had a great deal of fun with the “Grandchild “. Generally, I just hang up, but I was feeling ornery that day. I just hope I can keep from being fooled.

  10. How fun, Victoria! I really enjoy com stories that are on the lighter side, like The Sting and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
    I’m real life, I agree with Liz and follow the motto “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

  11. The new book sounds exciting, looking forward to continuing with the series. The best advice about onlscans is to never open attachments or videos that are sent to you unless you’re absolutely sure of the source.

    1. The new book sounds exciting, looking forward to continuing with the series. The best advice about online scans is to never open attachments or videos that are sent to you unless you’re absolutely sure of the source.

  12. This book sounds great. I love that you realized it could have been resolved early on and went on with the second half. My husband will often ask me during a TV show why someone doesn’t just do the obvious. I tell him because then it would be a 10-minute show.
    Online I feel if it looks too good to be true it probably is. If I’m not certain who something is from or where a link will lead I don’t open or click on it. I do look at the “from” address for the gobbledygook most scams have. I also seldom answer the phone unless I recognize who is calling, and I’ve been much more short (although I try to be polite) in cutting off the call once I realize it’s another scam.
    Can’t wait to read the book!

  13. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Victoria. You are writing about a time I have become increasingly interested in. I recently realized that three of my four grandparents went off to college during flu pandemic of 1918-1919. No one had ever mentioned a word about it. My paternal grandfather, who was older, served in WWI and went to college when he returned, startinglater than the others.

  14. I ignore all emails from unknown senders!
    Your latest novel sounds like great fun! Looking forward to reading it.

  15. When an email comes from a sender with a name I don’t recognize and it is a more familiar greeting of some kind, I get suspicious. Sadly our church secretary allowed our church to be conned out of $5000 when an email supposedly came from our priest saying he needed her to send him some money while at a conference. Now every time our priest goes out of town he writes the church members an email saying something like, “Don’t send me any money, no matter what I ask of you.” Somehow or another his email gets hacked often at conferences.

  16. If I don’t know you, contacted you, or signed up for your emails, I hit the trach button. Another key is when they start off My Dear—– Yeppers, a scam. Or the “you have won $xxxx million dollars.” Then there is we are holding a card for you at Western Union. Not likely. Then the old Nigerian scam of “we only need you to help us get the money out of the country.” If it was legal, you could move it yourself.

    Then there is the Calls from Social Security and how I’m going to go to jail if I don’t do xyz. They’ll send me a letter, thank you very much. And forget those calls from Microsoft, that is a scam. You have to call Microsoft is you have a problem. They don’t call you. The same with Google.

    If they are asking for money or threatening me, I turn them in if I have a phone number or report the site to google or microsoft as a scam. After falling for the first one, I’ve not done it since. If the promises are too good to be true, it probably is a scam. Yes, you can call me jaded, but it keeps my money in my pocket and not some con artist.

  17. Love caller id – family and friends know I won’t pick up if I don’t recognize the number. For emails, I check the email address before opening it. I also pay attention to scams reported on the news and newspaper articles.

  18. My husband recently pointed out that those “get to know you” exercises on Facebook often include things used as security questions and you shouldn’t put those out in public.

  19. If the caller doesn’t address you by your name or ask if this is [your name], just hang up. It is a robocall and most likely a scam.

Comments are closed.