Wedding Bandits by Oswald Black

Wedding Bandits by Oswald Black is a unique and intriguing tale about a crew of serial romance scammers. When the crew unwittingly targets the daughter of a mobster, stage a fake wedding, and decamp with all the wedding gifts, including a brand new Porsche 911 convertible, the mobster and his son are soon in hot pursuit and the outcome is likely to be deadly.

Oswald Black’s Wedding Bandits was an entertaining break from a steady diet of crime fiction novels centered on the usual murder mysteries and jewelry heists. Here, readers get instead a unique crime like “catfishing” without the online component. They roll into town, identify a wealthy family that includes a portly, unattractive daughter with slim chances of matrimony and get to work. After the crew of con men have established fake personas, Clyde Morrison, the leader, a handsome devil, courts the ugly duckling until she quickly accepts his marriage proposal. Then, after organizing a scam wedding with a fake officiant, Clyde abandons his “bride” on their wedding night. The crew absconds immediately with all the cash and wedding gifts they can lay hands on and heads to the next town to seek their next mark. Unfortunately for Clyde and his crew, they unwittingly target the daughter of Sylvester Robertson, who they mistakenly believe is an ordinary wealthy construction company owner but is actually a mobster. Once Angie Robertson awakens the morning after the wedding and realizes Clyde has decamped with all the wedding gifts, she calls her daddy. Soon Robertson and his son Sebastian are off in hot pursuit of Clyde and his gang with murder in their hearts.

Wedding Bandits has many characters, and Black does a phenomenal job with the cues the reader needs to keep everyone straight. Each character has a unique voice and personality that shines through, which helps the reader stay engaged with the narrative.

The novel is primarily a slow-burn thriller, and Black skillfully sets up the plot with its interwoven crimes. This isn’t your usual murder mystery or heist crime fiction tale, but that’s part of the appeal, and there is plenty of action.

As Clyde Morrison and his crew finish swindling Angie Robertson and her father with a sham marriage and decamp with the cash and other wedding gifts, they head for another town to seek the next mark unaware of the menace from Angie’s father and brother who are hunting them down for a little payback. Unfortunately for Clyde and friends, the Robertsons are mobsters concealing their criminal interests behind a legitimate construction business, and the romance scammers must evade a genuine threat once it becomes painfully clear.

Wedding Bandits also features an interesting subplot. The Robertsons have troubles of their own besides the jilted Angie. They are the target of an FBI investigation and while they are chasing down Clyde and his crew; the FBI is hot on the heels of the Robertsons. The book quickly establishes what’s at stake for all concerned, and the stakes are high, indeed.

This debut novel by Oswald Black is one of the most skillfully written novels I’ve read this year. The book will please crime fiction fans with its tight plot and engaging narrative that includes plenty of suspense, unexpected twists, and a helping of dark humor that I much appreciated. I eagerly look forward to more from Oswald Black in the future.

Wedding Bandits, independently published, is available in print from June 4, 2024, and the electronic version goes on sale June 11, 2024. I received an advanced reader’s copy of the book from the publisher used for this review, which represents my honest opinions.

Book rating: ★★★★★

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