The story of the con is usually something of a legend - the con artist is hopeful, charismatic, daring, ambitious; Caesars and Gatsbys and Abagnales all. The con artist is a profiteer in the breach of trust, a prospector who finds their fortunes by planting themselves along the lines of trust in a society, and striking where there is vulnerability.
My Friend Anna depicts the true story of a 21st century con. The book follows Vanity Fair Journalist, Rachel DeLoache Williams' friendship with Anna Sorokin-Delvey, the apparent heiress to a multi-million-dollar European fortune, in New York City.
Over the course of the story, Williams finds herself drawn into trusting her wealthy new friend, and increasingly committed to leaps of faith. When Anna's finances mysteriously fail, Williams comes to the terrifying realisation that she has taken on debts of Anna's equalling more than she can earn in a year; with no reassurance of repayment. It is from here that she must battle uphill to recover her life from Anna Sorokin, whose apparently mega-wealthy family are driving trucks in Russia.
Unlike other stories of the con, such as the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, this story never elevates beyond the believable or even the mundane, and the 'great con', Anna, fails to be a Caesar-figure.
A lack of spectacular prose and a broader thematic ambition dampened my enjoyment of the book for its first half.
But in the second half, as the con unwinds, and the trust which has grown over the course of the book is steadily betrayed, I found this tension kept the book in my hand.
When Anna's crimes come to court, she becomes an instant celebrity and an "anti-establishment hero".
"A quick Google search revealed a range of Anna Delvey-inspired t-shirts for sale, one of which reads, 'My other shirt will wire you $30,000'," she writes.
Netflix buys the rights to her story, and magazines begin reshaping the narrative which Williams suffered through.
Battling the emotional turmoil of trust betrayed and financial ruin, Williams questions the moral value of trust.
She reflects on how trust has changed in the digital age, but more importantly how it has not, and, in her mind, how it should not.
Faced with the growing legend of Anna, Williams makes a conscious choice to dispel the grand narrative of the con artist.
She instead chooses to depict the situation as distinctly commonplace, free of the romance of the mythic anti-hero - a simple case of trust and its abuse.
- My Friend Anna: The true story of the fake heiress of New York City, by Rachel DeLoache Williams. Hachette. $32.99.
- David Ferrell is studying arts and law at the Australian National University.