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Publisher's Summary

In 1988 a troubled young man and his flamboyant mother were arrested for murdering a wealthy widow in her New York City mansion. Suddenly America was transfixed by a pair of real-life film noir characters. The media couldn't get enough of the twisted relationship between Sante Kimes and her 23-year-old son, Kenny. But the most chilling story of all was never told - until now.

Kent Walker, Sante's elder son, reveals how he survived 40 years of "the Dragon Lady's" very special brand of motherly love and still managed to get away. As a child Kent watched his mother destroy his hardworking father, Ed Walker, and then - with Kent's painful collusion - snare what Sante called "my millionaire". When she married seemingly respectable real-estate developer Ken Kimes, it was a match made in hell. For the next two decades, Kent's mother and stepfather indulged in a globetrotting orgy of criminal behavior, laying waste to each other and anyone who got in the way. When Kent's half brother, Kenny, was born, Kent was 12 years old - old enough to know that he was his younger sibling's only protector.

©2001 Kent Walker with Mark Schone (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Well researched and touching.... As a chronicle of Sante Kimes's life, it's unlikely to be surpassed by any other." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very Good Story Telling

If you could sum up Son of a Grifter in three words, what would they be?

Ups and Downs

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

That the step father Ken Kimes was so underestimated in his role and influence.

What does John Glouchevitch bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Great narration, just fabulous.

If you could give Son of a Grifter a new subtitle, what would it be?

Criminal Minds.

Any additional comments?

Myself, and I'm sure many readers, have crossed paths or have been situated with sociopathic and narcissistic personalities. Sometimes people are afflicted with both in addition to having a sadistic personality disorder. I have had to deal with family members that have all three. I understand the constant distress these people bring to the table. The damage they can do. The silent ones and the loud ones. It is a lot to work through when the damage is done. The recounting of these stories was very well laid out to bring the insanity to the table so the reader can understand. Kent Walker had a lot of innate personal integrity rise above the conditions he found himself in.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • jaye
  • GREENWICH, CT, United States
  • 07-03-17

CON PEOPLE AT THEIR WORST!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

YES. IT IS SUCH A PREPOSTEROUS STORY. YET IT IS TRUE. SANTE KIMES WAS A FLAWED PERSON. SHE LEFT CHAOS EVERYWHERE SHE WENT. SHE HAD NO IDEA OF WHAT HAVING MORALS WAS EVEN ABOUT. IT MOVES FROM ONE INCIDENT TO THE NEXT. KEEPS YOU INTERESTED.

What other book might you compare Son of a Grifter to and why?

SERPENTINE BY THOMAS THOMPSON.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

WHEN SANTE GOT HER JUST DESERT.

Any additional comments?

I HAD BEEN WAITING FOR THIS BOOK. I READ IT PHYSICALLY A LONG TIME AGO. I CAN'T READ ANYMORE AND I WAS HAPPY WHEN IT WAS AVAILABLE AUDIBLY

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

It disgusted me but I couldn't put it down

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It is the kind of story that you keep reading because you can't imagine what your reading could be true. So many times I wanted to put the book down because of how ... just broken all the characters were (including the author) and how disgusted I was by their thoughts and actions.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Son of a Grifter?

For me there wasn't just one... the life of Shante Kines was one of the most memorable I have ever encountered in the pages of a non-fiction book.

What does John Glouchevitch bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I liked that the narrator sounded like a surfer dude which kind of supported my mental picture of the author. He also managed to provide different character voices without going over the top. Also, I LOVED that he either knew how to say or learned to correctly say names of locations etc.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

There's a new Mommy Dearest in town

Any additional comments?

Besides the true crime aspect, I really appreciated watching to author develop (to where he was when he finished writing the book). I feel like I shared a little of his journey with him.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Brett
  • Yorba Linda, CA, United States
  • 09-18-17

Relentless Fraud and Murder

Where does Son of a Grifter rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is in my top 10. I have listened to hundreds of audible books over the last 12 years. The story is a bit personal to me as my mom displays some of the characteristics of Sante Kimes and a lot of the story takes place near where I grew up in Orange County. Additionally, both Kenny Kimes and I went to UC Santa Barbara. He was there a few years after I graduated though.

What other book might you compare Son of a Grifter to and why?

Maybe confessions of a Cartel Hitman or The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman. However, this one is much more complex as there are very few people like Sante Kimes in this world. Some lie and cheat, but she is the gold medal winner if there was ever a competition.

What about John Glouchevitch’s performance did you like?

Performance was good. Good tempo, very easy to understand. Voices of characters were done pretty well.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

A few laughs here and there. Maybe a little anger. No tears though

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this book. In some respects it's hard to believe how much of a psychopath that Sante Kimes was. However, I know a few people like her (but not at her level) and I see the potential for evil in these people.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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spectacular.

I cannot say enough and I won't say much because I don't want to give it away but I LOVED this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Well told

This had to be hard to tell. Dysfunctional family is an understatement and while step father, mother and step brother decided to turn bad, the author is the victor of his life deciding to live an acceptable life instead of a life of crime although he laments not having a normal loving family. Very well told, didn't want to stop listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Socioapathy at its worst

Narration: clear, dramatically paced, rhythmic, and just right for this material.

Content: nothing to add to already existing reviews. And to think that such self-deluding, dangerous people actually walk among us. For me, it is not clear that the world would not be better off not invoking the death penalty.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very Interesting, could be Shorter

Sante Kimes is probably one of the most versatile of criminals, thinking outside the box for creative ways to cheat, lie steal and generally get what she wants. Psychopaths can be geniuses. But then she got stuck in her own web of lies, like an echo chamber. Great story. Kent deserves credit for staying out of it (mostly) but the book could have been edited down.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sad Tale

The powers of family and money combine to make this a gripping story. I agree the father was underestimated. The author built a real life out of lies, obfuscation, and twisted thinking. I applaud his courage in coming through a difficult beginning to a relatively normal life though not without scars.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

It's amazing how much my childhood has in common

Interesting but sometimes hard to believe that Kent was eating out of trash cans for weeks and nobody at school could tell that he was homeless. Then his mother would show up in a house after abandoning him. Why didn't he just sleep there. It is awesome that Kent survived to live an ordinary life.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful