Monday, January 2, 2017

Thomas Perry

Thomas Perry's novels include the Jane Whitefield series (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman, The Face Changers, Blood Money, Runner, Poison Flower, and A String of Beads), Death Benefits, Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel, and The Butcher's Boy, which won the prestigious Edgar Award.

Perry's new novel is The Old Man.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
The reader will just have to trust me on this one in spite of the obvious connection: Jo Perry's Dead is Better is a terrific book, published by Fahrenheit Press. It's the first book of what is already a trilogy about a man named Charles who wakes up in the afterlife with bullets in his belly and accompanied by a scrawny dog he's never seen in life. He wonders about the afterlife--"Is this my dog? Does everybody get a dog?" He names the dog Rose, and the two of them go into the world of the living to figure out who killed him. In the second book, Dead is Best, it's a couple of earth years later and Charles and Rose discover that Cali, his stepdaughter from one of his several failed marriages, is in terrible trouble, near death from an overdose. Charlie and Rose again visit the living to find out how this came about and try to help her survive and deal with the series of dangers she now faces. Fahrenheit will publish the third book early next year. This time Charles deals with a crisis in the life of the only woman he ever really loved.

The reason I read these three books is that Jo Perry is my wife, and my former writing partner from television days. We've always been each other's first reader, and see it as a duty to be merciless. The books are full of funny, sarcastic, and insightful commentary by Charles, profound meditations on death, dying, and life taken from some of the best minds in history, and stories that move fast and provide lots of suspense.

My second favorite of the moment is a book called Every Man a Menace by Patrick Hoffman, published by Atlantic Monthly Press. Hoffman is a genuine private investigator who has worked in his native San Francisco and in Brooklyn. This is his second novel, but it's a brilliant mechanism that runs with smoothness and certainty. To oversimplify, it's about a disruption in a complex drug organization, described in its entirety from the product's beginning in Bangkok to its various sales outlets in San Francisco and Miami. A mistake is made, someone must pay, and at each link in the chain, there are consequences. People react with a combination of cowardice, ferocity, and self-interest, but always believably and vividly.

I read this book because a colleague working at the publishing house read it and sent it to me. She made it clear that I wasn't expected to write a blurb, but I couldn't help it. My blurb began with "Whatever you're reading, put it down and read this first."
Visit Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue