The Discovery of Thomas Perry
Consuming books, if I can use that term, means having standards, selecting formats, choosing wisely. Reading a book is an investment in time and attention, but then again so is listening to an audiobook – but I consume different kinds of books in each medium. I read more seriously, more critically; I listen for entertainment and to some extent as a diversion for when I’m on lawn duty, doing chores, working on a woodworking project. I strap my iPod to my arm, wedge my AirPods in my ears, and away I go, transported in the author’s storyworld while the work gets done.
I’ve listened to most, in a few cases all, of the works of John Sandford, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, Robert Crais. These fine authors write in the mystery/thriller genres. What I blithely term brain candy. At a certain point, you might find the plots become awfully similar; only the characters or settings differentiate the works. I found myself facing a dry well until I recently discovered Thomas Perry.
Perry has the gift of original, engagingly different plots in mystery/thriller novels. Wikipedia says he’s written 27 novels which fall into four groupings:
I’m on my fourth Perry listen, Nightlife; all are, so far, in the standalone category. What has made his writing so engaging and memorable for me is how each book’s plot is different and distinct, each narrated by talented voiceover artists such as Christina Delaine and Joe Barrett. Nightlife is about a female serial killer. Before that I listened to Death Benefits, concerning an insurance company data analyst who gets entangled in a dangerous fraud. The Burglar is about, well, a professional burglar whose name is Elle. Last but far from least is The Bomb Maker, with an ending you will not soon forget.
So two out of four novels have female leads, and each in her own way is a very convincing character – and the men are too. But I really like how Perry doesn’t just have male characters performing the usual macho-detection stuff. Elle, the clever burglar, was especially interesting.
Butcher’s Boy was Perry’s first, which won an Edgar. I think I’ll begin exploring his series work with it. I imagine reading one of his books would be just as engaging, and I’ll likely do just that. But just now, after reading this very intersting interview with Thomas Perry, he is my most hearty audiobook recommendation to fans of the genre.