A year ago, if you had asked me if I’d heard of author Thomas Perry, I would have told you yes. If you had asked me if I’d read anything by the man, the answer would have been a no. And if you’d have asked (my… you can be a pest, at times) if I was going to read something by him anytime soon, I’d have riled, “I don’t know.” The TBR pile was pretty high then (and it’s not much better now), and grows like my two kids (which in their case that is good, but the opposite is true for the pile). I’m not getting any younger, you know. Plus, taking on something like Perry’s Jane Whitefield series at this point seemed just this side of masochistic in my whittling-down-the-pile endeavor I’ve given myself.
To my credit, I had the Jack Till standalone, Silence, on my Audible wish list, too. But, I confess that had been there for months. And nothing at the time seemed to be urging me on to download the work, either. I’d have said things were unlikely to change in the immediate future. That was until I read this online:
“For a while “Strip” ambles along in this entertaining but recognizable vein. With its penny-ante schemes, crossed wires, mistaken identities and dim-witted ne’er-do-wells, it veers close to Elmore Leonard territory, always a good place to be.”
This is from the N.Y. Times 2010 book review by Janet Maselin, Affable Thugs, Playful Crimes, Rough Justice, of Perry’s then new novel, Strip. And it was the “… veers close to Elmore Leonard territory” line that got my attention. I had to see for myself (circumventing and violating all sorts of protocol with regard to the stack, mind you). I had to check out if the drop of the Elmore Leonard [doffs his cap] name in the piece was just plain hyperbole by the reviewer. I’m happy to say, it wasn’t. What a fun ride this was! Indeed, I could have just said that for the unexpected plotting in the novel, alone. However, what really made the work memorable for me were the characters the author sprinkled all over the place in the crime tale. Most of them, who were from the other side of the law, I couldn’t get enough of. Hell, I found myself more than sympathetic toward someone I really hadn’t expected. Surprisingly so.
As well, the novelist made effective use of the L.A. terrain (especially some of the San Fernando Valley locations) in the yarn while producing some sharp insights of my native SoCal (and some of those who live here). Like former out-of-towners (and now great, southland authors) Robert Crais, Don Winslow, and Charlie Huston, Thomas Perry brings a similar skill with his characters and wordsmithing. Add an intense and keen eye toward his adopted hometown, and I now have a solid quartet of authors I follow religiously (and this isn’t going to help that pile of mine none, huh?).
“Perry is the master, and Strip is a slice of pure crime nirvana. You will not want to put it down. You will not want it to end. You will be very, very entertained.” ~ Josh Bazell, author of Beat the Reaper
That, “You will not want it to end“, part is so true. Since I listened to Tantor Media’s unabridged audiobook, expertly narrated by Michael Kramer I must say, I was caught flat-footed by the novel’s conclusion. Frustratingly so, too. That is until I figured this is what the pusher publisher probably wanted all along — to get me hooked. I surmise Perry can easily continue this the story or the character arcs with what’s left by the story’s end. He must… he has to. I have to say, this situation where I’m left yearning for another fix of these characters so reminds me of that classic Bill Cosby routine, The Toothache. You know the one… where the tooth sufferer discovers the miracle that is Midol (only to learn another lesson):
A year later, that Audible wish-list of mine has many more works by this author on it. Tell me, will that count against my TBR stack?
A sample of the work by Tantor Audio is available on their Strip web page.
- Audiobook Mid-Week Meme (le0pard13.wordpress.com)
- Hired Killer, Forced Out of Retirement, Says Hello Again to an Old Adversary (nytimes.com)
- Interview with Elmore and Peter Leonard (telegraph.co.uk)