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|Author||Joe David Brown|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|June 1, 1971|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
The novel is narrated by Addie, an orphaned girl, who travels with confidence man Moses "Long Boy" Pray in the early 1930s, during the Great Depression. Addie states at the beginning of the novel that Long Boy may or may not be her father; she says that her late mother was the "wildest" girl in her town, and that Long Boy is one of her three possible fathers. Their characters are established in Alabama, and the storyline then carries them to other Southern states around Memphis. The film version retains these characters and much of their action, but moves the story to Kansas and Missouri.
In the second part of the novel, from which the movie diverges further, Addie and Moses meet an older conman who teaches them class and sophistication. They then begin dropping fake letters, promising big yields in a silver mine, in order to draw in greedy victims.
In the last third of the novel, Addie is more directly involved in a scam, posing as the long-lost granddaughter of a supposedly wealthy old woman.