Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Butcher's Boy: Thomas Perry

The Butcher's Boy (otherwise nameless) is a professional killer for hire, and apparently does most of his work for the Mafia. This time his jobs center around a corporation that handles pension funds, Fieldston Growth Enterprises. After the killer has done two jobs he heads to Las Vegas for a rest, only to find that he is being targeted by his former bosses. A second story line follows Elizabeth Waring, an analyst for the Department of Justice. She initially notices that a death in Ventura, California is suspicious. She and an FBI agent are sent to Ventura to look into that incident, but are soon taken off that investigation and sent to Colorado where a Senator has been murdered. The cases don't seem to be related, but Elizabeth insists that there is a connection.


I liked the way the story develops, with two main story lines, one following the killer and one following Elizabeth Waring. Although the killer is not likable, and has little personality, it is interesting to watch him work and follow his thought processes when he runs into problems. Elizabeth is highly intelligent and a talented analyst, but she has to watch how she behaves with her superiors, because she is a woman. However she is very competent in her job and not afraid to speak up, and those who work with her realize her value.

The book was written in 1982, and of course all the electronic developments in the last couple of decades were not available. For that reason this book may feel dated to some. That did not bother me; I read a lot of books from the 1970s and 80s for that reason. The story moved along and I was never bored. It was occasionally confusing, because the author does not add a lot of explanation; he lets the reader figure it out. And the characterization was very good.

Thomas Perry is a new author for me. I have a few of his other books on my TBR piles. This was Perry's debut novel and it won the Edgar for Best First Novel of 1982. Perry wrote two books about the Butcher's Boy. The second book, Sleeping Dogs, was published 10 years later, in 1992. In 2011, he published The Informant.  I want to read both of the sequels, of course. The edition of The Butcher's Boy that I read has an introduction by Michael Connelly, which was also entertaining.


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Publisher:  Random House, 2003 (orig. publ. 1982)
Length:     313 pages
Format:    Trade paperback
Series:     Butcher's Boy #1
Setting:    US (Las Vegas, Nevada; Ventura, California; Colorado)
Genre:     Mystery
Source:    I purchased my copy

12 comments:

  1. I have read his Jane Whitefield series, but none of his standalones. I may give this a try.

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    1. I have the first Jane Whitefield book, but haven't read it yet. Now I am eager to try it.

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  2. Hmm....I'm not usually one to read about killers-for-hire, Tracy. But I do like strong characters, and it sounds as though the story draws the reader in. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. I haven't read many books (if any, have to think about that) about killers-for-hire, Margot. In principle, it seems like an unpleasant topic. But I do want to try the Keller hit man series by Lawrence Block also.

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  3. I have read a couple of his books about someone who creates new ids, and liked them - I think that might e the Jane Whitefield books mentioned above. But there are too many authors and too many series out there! I can't keep up!

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    1. I think that is the Jane Whitefield series that you have read, Moira. I do know what you mean about keeping up with authors and series. Just a couple of days ago I was trying to remember the author of a series that you had blogged about, featuring a Jewish lawyer, and it took me a while to figure it out. (It was Marissa Piesman.)

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  4. I'm not familiar with Thomas Perry, either, Tracy, but you've piqued my interest. If he's on Kindle, I might give him a try.

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    1. Matt, I would be very interested in what you think of any books by this author. I would guess that they are available on Kindle. He is new to me but I will be reading more of his books.

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  5. I loved this one when I read it a fair few years ago - time for a re-read maybe. I have tried a few other from him and enjoyed them, but nothing yet from the Whitfield series.

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    1. I am eager to try more of his books, Col. Just have to fit them in somewhere.

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  6. My mum absolutely lovely Perry - this may be his best book according to her :)

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    1. A lot of people say this was the best book, then others say that his writing improved in later books. Either way, he gets a lot of praise, Sergio.

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