Friday, August 20, 2021

The Grifter by Ali Gunn & Sean Campbell - Book Tour

Book Blurb

He stole billions.

Meet Kent Bancroft: investment guru, rising star of the London social scene, and, keep it quiet, the mastermind behind the biggest fraud in history.

Among his victims is the most unlikely of nemeses: a working-class electrician turned vagrant, a man with no money, no power, and no big ideas. Except one: the burning desire to get even, whatever the cost.
Will Kent see him coming before it's too late?

Or is London's richest man about to find his comeuppance in London's most downtrodden?


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‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this year’s City of London Orphans’ Fund Gala. Tonight, we’re going to hear from a cornucopia of London’s greatest men.’

The MC paused to look into the wings. Sure enough, when Kent followed his gaze, he saw that almost all of those lined up to speak this evening were men. Among them, Kent recognised famous politicians, charity wonks, businessmen and philanthropists, many of whom were worth the better part of a billion pounds. Tonight wasn’t about London’s orphans; it was simply an opportunity for the rich to flaunt their wealth.

‘And then, at the end of the evening, we’re going to be auctioning off over one hundred pieces of art, with all the proceeds going to the Fund. Please be ready to dig deep and take home some fabulous artwork.’

The art on offer wasn’t all fabulous. Some of it was downright ugly. One artist had painted the outline of a misshapen box in chalk paint. What on earth was all that about? Even so, no doubt at least one item would soon be hanging in the Bancroft family home. Kent’s wife had intimated she’d like to have something new to show off at her dinner parties. The pièce de résistance this evening was a previously undiscovered painting by the late Winston Quigley. The estimate was an eye-watering £2 million. Except, it had no papers. Without proof it really was by old Winny, it was just another so-so canvas.

The MC’s voice snapped Kent’s attention back to the present.

‘But before that, I’d like to welcome to the stage a man who needs no introduction,’ the MC continued. ‘Tonight’s first speaker is one of London’s most famous market makers. He’s started his own investment firm, become one of London’s most generous philanthropists, and returned consistent gains for his investors even in the midst of the infamous crash of ‘07. This year he’s been on the front page of Esquire, appeared in The Impartial’s Investor of the Year shortlist, and is the bookies’ favourite to be Britain’s Next Billionaire by the end of the year… and it’s only May! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the one and only… Kent Bancroft!’

The crowd clapped, though with varying enthusiasm. Those nearest the front – in plain view from the stage – were the most enthusiastic, while the old statesmen of banking, Vice Presidents of Chase, Santander, and the like, all but sat on their hands.

Kent sauntered slowly to the centre of the stage. ‘Thank you, thank you. I’ve been involved with the Fund as an Ambassador for five years now, and I continue to be astounded by the good that it does all over London. Last week, I was in Stratford visiting our new Activity Centre. Thanks to your support last year, we’ve been able to create a place – no, a community – where children can come and play, learn, laugh and live in a safe space.

‘It was an extra-special visit for me personally,’ he said, looking around the room. He paused for a moment as if what he was saying was so heartfelt that he was choking up. ‘Before starting Bancroft, Tomlinson and Co, I was a teacher at a school a stone’s throw from the new centre, and I can honestly say the children there changed my life.

‘It’s funny, isn’t it? The way a small act can change the course of a life. The day that changed mine was in that school. I was teaching a class that, at the time, we called “Personal Social Health and Economic Education”, which was a fancy way of saying “everything we couldn’t shoehorn into another subject”.’

A ripple of laughter echoed around the Egyptian Hall.

‘For that lesson, I set the kids a very simple task. I bought a big bag of Haribo, put one sweet in front of each child and said, “You can eat that now if you like, but I’m going to go out of the room, and when I get back, if you’ve not eaten yours, I’ll double what you’ve got in front of you.”

‘So I left the room. Easy lesson, I thought. Ten minutes in the staff room, have a cup of tea, read the paper, and then I could come back and see how many of the kids had enough willpower to leave the sweet in front of them. I’d done the same lesson the previous year, and only two of the children managed to earn an extra sweet.

‘Can you guess what happened? I had my break, then went back to the classroom. To my surprise, the kids were sitting in a line along one wall. They turned to face me as I walked in, each and every one of them looking so smug that I knew something was up.

‘That day, they taught me a lesson. They’d taken the sweets, piled them up in one corner of the room, all thirty of them, and then the kids had sat in a line along the back wall, all of them facing towards the corner where they’d put the sweets. I looked at them quizzically. That was when one of them, Tom, stood up. “I think you owe us some sweets, sir,” he said to me. “You said you’d give us twice as many sweets as we have in front of us. By my maths, you owe us each sixty sweets, sir.

‘And I burst out laughing. They were right: I had said exactly that. I hadn’t bothered to qualify that it had to be directly in front of them so they’d taken me at my word. The next day, I bought them each two bags of Haribo. In the end, that was the best sixty pounds I’ve ever spent. It made me realise that a fresh perspective can turn a small opportunity into a huge profit. That lesson is the bedrock of my career. It’s why I run the biggest boutique investment firm in Britain, and it’s why, every year, I give back to the community by donating to the Fund. This evening, my wife, Rima,’ he said, pointing at the table at the back where she was sitting with the Ukrainian Ambassador to London, ‘and I will be donating another million pounds to the Fund.’

He paused, allowing the audience to applaud once more.

‘Thank you, thank you… But I think you know where I’m going with this story. My one million will make a difference. But if you follow the example of the children and form a line behind me and each of you donate, whether that’s a thousand pounds or a million, we can make a much bigger impact. And, if you do, the Haribo is on me.’

Another ripple of laughter ran around the room.

‘Thank you all for listening. Enjoy your evening.’


About Sean Campbell
Sean trained as a barrister and was called to the Bar of England and Wales back in 2011. Luckily for him, he now spends his days working out how to kill people without being caught, and then flipping the switch to play detective. His non-writing interests vary from photography and cinema to rugby and hiking. You can usually find him somewhere in one of London’s coffee shops – look for the big bearded guy taking up way too much room and hogging the Wi-Fi.

 He is the author of the seven DCI Morton novels (Dead on Demand, Cleaver Square, Ten Guilty Men, The Patient Killer, Missing Persons, The Evolution of a Serial Killer, and My Hands Are Tied), one seasonal novella (Christmas Can Be Murder) plus the standalone crime thriller The Grifter.

You can find out more at

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About Ali Gunn

Ali Gunn kills people for a living*.

 The characters in Ali's books are the kind of strong, fearless women that every girl dreams of growing up to be.

The first DCI Elsie Mabey novel, The Career Killer, has been downloaded over 75,000 times since its release.

Book two in the series, The Psychopath Within, is due for release in 2022.

 Ali is also a co-author of The Grifter, out August 15th 2021.

To find out more, visit

 *fictional people, honest officer!

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