Con Me Once by J.L. Delozier is a superhero/Mafia book that you have to add to your “need to read” list. We follow the story about two friends through each of their perspectives as they try to support each other, no matter their path in life, in order to stay alive and stay together throughout adulthood. After arriving at a training camp for superheroes, they continue to watch each other’s backs no matter who they meet and what happens between them.
My typical book choice sways more towards the romantic side than action because I just haven’t found an action-based book to keep me interested. Con Me Once definitely challenged my original thought process. Frankly, this book reminded me of the same type and tone of an action-driven story as one of my favorite movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Frank and Raunch are our two main characters in Con Me Once that have been friends since meeting in juvie and have been taking care of each other ever since. Frank, after being arrested for stealing a rare copy of Batman No. 1, has changed for the better and is the residential superhero in South Philly. With no actual superpowers, Frank sets out to help others in the city as Lambda Man. Raunch, on the other hand, has stuck to what put him in juvie in the first place and has continued running “errands” for the local Italian mob.
Con Me Once: The Origin Story
In Con Me Once, when Frank is not running around as Lambda Man, he works at a comics store. The same store that he tried to steal from that landed him in juvie. He is working when Kiera comes into the store, a purple-haired beauty with Black Widow vibes (my dream persona). After returning home, Kiera makes an appearance again, walking out of his bedroom and holding his Lambda Man costume. She made a proposal to join her training camp for superheroes, Heros2B, Inc. This includes food, a room at the facility, and training to help make him into a trained superhero. While this sounds like a giant upgrade from his rundown, shared apartment, he turns her down. She still leaves him her card.
Raunch, while running an errand for the mob, proceeds to kill the wrong man. After a meeting with a disappointed Capo, he manages to escape with his life intact. He is taken on an errand with his handler, Skinny, to kill Frank’s boss, a traitor to the Italian mob. They find Frank’s boss already dead by a boss of the Irish mob, Jack McConnell. Raunch finds a letter with Lambda Man’s signal printed on an envelope that fell from Frank’s boss’ hand.
The Journey Of The Characters
Raunch manages to convince Frank to take the job that Kiera is offering. He also gets his own job with her as a security guard. After they have been training at this facility for awhile they meet two other superheroes in training. They all moved to Vegas to an abandoned mansion, their new training facility, until the end of Con Me Once.
Being in Vegas, a comic convention is happening soon which everyone is excited about. The superheroes are promised a meet and greet with the Avengers after they finish training along with other promises made. While training, Kiera is planning something behind their backs and it all seems to fall apart the closer they get to the end of their training.
Con Me Once‘s Characters & Theme
Raunch and Frank share the spotlight, switching back and forth viewpoints on every chapter. When reading this story, I find this one of the best ways to show two different sides to any story. We see Frank watching this situation unfold along with his own reasons why he continues to be Lambda Man. Raunch sees a different side of Kiera that wouldn’t have been shown to the audience if they were only reading it from Frank’s perspective. Con Me Once‘s main theme was that friends stick together no matter what. In the beginning, Frank tells Raunch after finding him killing the wrong man that he would never turn Raunch into the police.
Theoretically, as a superhero, that should have been the first thing he did when he saw what his friend had done. There is a moment halfway through the book when Frank collapses during an unplanned mission to help save people. Raunch stays to help him work through his mental turmoil instead of leaving him on the ground to get hurt. Without giving anything away, Raunch has the opportunity to make his dreams come true. Instead, he wants to make sure he can help Frank instead of profiting from his discovery by himself.
The Type Of Story
Con Me Once is interesting because all of the main characters still have a dark side to them. Frank is our obvious morally sound guy but he has a need for revenge. This is from not being able to save his family from his father and his boss from a mob hit. Raunch hasn’t fully extracted himself from his life of crime. Kiera still has ties to the mafia family and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty herself. Con Me Once is the book for people that can’t quite get into comic books but love the superhero aspect to a story or even comic book enthusiasts. Also for the people that can’t get enough of the Mafia/Mob movies and documentaries popping up on streaming services.