An Amiable Charlatan

An Amiable Charlatan by E. Phillips Oppenheim

An Amiable Charlatan by E. Phillips Oppenheim

E. Phillips Oppenheim is an adventure author popular in the 30s whose novels are about sophisticated British gentlemen doing dashing things. Location is important, specifically restaurant location. Most of his books read like a cross between a spy novel and a Zagat’s guide.

An Amiable Charlatan is no exception; much of the action takes place in the Milan Grill Room in London. That’s not particularly noteworthy in an Oppenheim book. What’s noteworthy, to me, is that this book is an elaborate answer to a question I asked a while ago: what use can be made of the 4e rogue power which allows one to stow an item on an unsuspecting target?

The titular Amiable Charlatan, a pickpocket and swindler, must stow, like, 40 items on unsuspecting targets during the course of this book.

The Charlatan makes the protagonist’s acquaintance by running into the Milan Grill Room and joining the protagonist for dinner. A moment later, cops run in and search the Charlatan for stolen jewelry: but it is too late, the Charlatan has already, unbeknownst to the protagonist, stowed the jewelry on the protagonist, who is far too respectable to be searched.

Variations on this trick occur throughout the book. After a day of getting in scrapes with his amiable friend, the protagonist is constantly amazed to discover stolen pearl necklaces tucked in his pocket.

The Charlatan also frames an unpleasant wedding guest by stowing wedding gifts in the guest’s pocket, and then accusing him of theft. When the guest is searched, the planted item is discovered – along with several other wedding gifts! Coincidentally, the guest really was stealing stuff! Irony? I’m not sure!

In order to destroy evidence, the Charlatan also palms a counterfeit bill and stows a good one in its place.

There’s also an incident where bullets are stowed in an unloaded gun, causing a heist to turn deadly. I think this also comes under the purview of the rogue power.

Well, there’s that request fulfilled: I asked to hear about an irritating rogue career built around the Nimble Fingers power. I meant in a D&D game, but a novel will do as well.


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