I’m always looking for books that are real page-turners—I can’t put them down. If you like this kind of book I recommend the thrillers of Thomas Perry, an author of twenty best-selling suspense novels, who spoke last week at The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale.
I read Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy, an Edgar Award winner and the first book of a series of three. The series is about a hired assassin who works under cover of darkness, kills his victim, and then receives a payoff. In the first book he kills a senator from Colorado and must travel to Las Vegas to collect his fee. Suddenly he becomes the hunted as his clients—organized crime bosses—turn against him. He is also just a step ahead of Elizabeth Waring, a young analyst for the Justice Department who is uncovering his tracks. The plot goes back and forth between the lives of these two—killer and tracker. I was intrigued by the fact that Perry never gave a name to his assassin. The climax provides one of those “stay up until three in the morning to see what happens” mornings.
Perry wrote two more books in this series, Sleeping Dogs (1992) and The Informant (2011.) In between he wrote a number of stand-alone thrillers. Three years after he wrote Sleeping Dogs, he began a five-book series about a character named Jane Whitefield.
He spoke at the bookstore about the newest book in the Whitefield series, Poison Flower. The Whitefield series had a five-book arc and Perry wrote them from 1995-1999, adding a sixth book, Runner (2009), and this latest book.
Perry was both charming and witty and recounted with great humor the decisions he has made while writing novels. The new novel about Whitefield took shape in his mind when he was called for jury duty at a huge courthouse in Los Angeles. Like most jury cattle calls, this one involved lots of sitting and waiting. Perry began to wonder what would happen if someone broke out of the heavily guarded courthouse. And that was the birth of Poison Flower.
Jane Whitefield is a descendant of the Seneca Indians who lived in the western New York area where Perry grew up. Perry’s brother, an anthropologist, helped the author with reading lists so he could capture the Seneca history of the region. Jane Whitefield helps people disappear like a one-person protection agency. When she helps an innocent man accused of his wife’s murder escape the LA courthouse, she is subsequently kidnapped, wounded, tortured, and chased across the country by both her kidnappers and the police.
Perry grew up in Tonawanda, New York, and received his BA from Cornell University and his Phd in English Literature from the University of Rochester. Before he turned to writing novels he and his wife wrote and produced for television. Shows to his credit include 21 Jump Street, Simon and Simon, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. His website can be visited at thomasperryauthor.com/
Have you recently read a page-turning thriller? Add a comment and recommend it!