He Swindled Everyone and Everything
Women fell for his charm and lost all they owned. Bishops and chief executives were swindled out of millions.
A man called John Peter Daniels is deported from Hong Kong to India, his assumed country of origin. He is ill, with not long to live. In a way he is at home everywhere and nowhere. He speaks many languages: Gujarati, Kutchi, English, Swahili, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish and German, but he has no genuine passport. He seems equally acquainted with Christianity and Islam as he is with world politics, but he has no formal education. No one attends his funeral at the St James cemetery in Baroda.
In Svindlarprästen Aleksander Motturi traces the life of his father, the man who one day abandoned his wife and children and quite simply went up in smoke. He disappeared, only to return enmeshed in a web of deceit, making front page news in all the Swedish evening papers. So who was the man said to be buried in St James cemetery? The man who was known by many names but died as John Peter Daniels? Is he even dead? Or is his death feigned, to allow him to continue with his frauds?
Aleksander Motturi’s multilayered novel is partly about a man whose whole existence was built on a remarkable combination of total honesty and deception, and partly about those who were close to him, the family who, throughout the years, have swung between trying to understand, putting it behind them, forgiving, starting again, and finally, once and for all, distancing themselves from him.
Svindlarprästen is based on the author’s father who lived as a conman. The case was reported in every newspaper and the Swindling Priest became part of 1980s vernacular.