Pub Day Repost: The Burglar by Thomas Perry: A Thief Hunts for a Killer in this Original Thriller

The BurglarThe Burglar

by Thomas Perry
eARC, 304 pg.
Mysterious Press, 2019
Read: August 25 – 28, 2018

Elle Stowell is a thief — a burglar to be precise. She’s careful, methodical, careful — she doesn’t use weapons, she focuses on cash and things that are easy to sell. You really can’t call anyone in her profession “risk averse,” but she’s as close to it as you could possibly be.

She’s a cute, petite blonde working in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in LA. Her appearance gets her over-looked by those who ought to find her suspicious and her size and athletic ability help her get into places that she shouldn’t be. She makes enough to finance her lifestyle — and a little more. But primarily, she lives this way for the thrill.

All that changes one day when she breaks into a home and finds three bodies in the bedroom, clearly the victims of a shooting. She also notices that a video camera in the room which probably caught the murder — it definitely caught her. So she steals the camera from the scene and runs. She verifies that, yes, it shows the murder and a little bit of what led up to it. After making a few copies — and removing her self from the footage — she returns the camera for the police to use the footage.

Soon after this, she begins to hear of three people looking for her at some of her usual haunts. She’s told that they seem like cops, but she’s not sure. Cops or not, she wants nothing to do with them. Once bodies start showing up — bodies that are related to her in some way — she knows that she has to find the murderers or she’ll never be able to stop looking over her shoulder.

I don’t really think that I got to the point that I liked Elle — she’s a criminal, not one driven to it or forced to steal or anything. She made a choice at some point to steal and has stuck with it. She’s not particularly flamboyant about it — like Jim DiGriz or Nicholas Fox or anything. Her approach is clinical, serious, no-nonsense. So there’s none of the typical fictional trappings that make you like a thief character.

However, it wasn’t that far into the book when I realized that I was really invested in what’s going on with her — how is she going to escape the ramifications of what she’s seen? Is she being paranoid, or is there someone actually after her? Will she be able to bring them to justice without incriminating herself? How did they figure how who she was? Why were the original murders committed? Why isn’t anything happening with that video she left the police?

There are other characters — a couple that you get to spend some good time with, too. But this book is all about Elle. Like I said, I don’t think I ever liked Elle, but I appreciated her as a character. The other characters that are around for more than a few paragraphs are just interesting enough to justify their presence. Some bring out some interesting sides of Elle’s character or past. Others help us understand just what kind of mess she’s fallen into.

This is my third Thomas Perry book in the last year, and I was far more invested in the events of this than I was in either of the others — he kept reeling me in page by page. The pacing of this is great — just like Elle herself, Perry knows when to slow down and let you catch your breath and then when to dash off and leave you hanging on by your fingertips.Perry’s been at this for a while and it shows — he knows how to write a thriller.

Unlike many crime novels (including the other Perry novels), you don’t get to know anything about the murderers until the ending — you have an idea about them before the ending, but it’s not until the closing chapters that you actually learn anything. I loved that, I was just as much in the dark as Elle was. Perry didn’t get into the killer’s mindset or motivation at all. They were just out there, threatening Elle until she’s put the pieces together.

This was a fun read. It was gripping, it was unique, it was complex — and come to think of it, the motive for the killing and the crimes surrounding the murder aren’t like anything I remember in Crime Fiction. That alone makes it worth your while. Perry really delivered the goods with this one, and I encourage you to give it a shot.

—–

3.5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Grove Atlantic via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.

Advertisements

The Burglar by Thomas Perry: A Thief Hunts for a Killer in this Original Thriller

The BurglarThe Burglar

by Thomas Perry

eARC, 304 pg.
Mysterious Press, 2019

Read: August 25 – 28, 2018


Elle Stowell is a thief — a burglar to be precise. She’s careful, methodical, careful — she doesn’t use weapons, she focuses on cash and things that are easy to sell. You really can’t call anyone in her profession “risk averse,” but she’s as close to it as you could possibly be.

She’s a cute, petite blonde working in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in LA. Her appearance gets her over-looked by those who ought to find her suspicious and her size and athletic ability help her get into places that she shouldn’t be. She makes enough to finance her lifestyle — and a little more. But primarily, she lives this way for the thrill.

All that changes one day when she breaks into a home and finds three bodies in the bedroom, clearly the victims of a shooting. She also notices that a video camera in the room which probably caught the murder — it definitely caught her. So she steals the camera from the scene and runs. She verifies that, yes, it shows the murder and a little bit of what led up to it. After making a few copies — and removing her self from the footage — she returns the camera for the police to use the footage.

Soon after this, she begins to hear of three people looking for her at some of her usual haunts. She’s told that they seem like cops, but she’s not sure. Cops or not, she wants nothing to do with them. Once bodies start showing up — bodies that are related to her in some way — she knows that she has to find the murderers or she’ll never be able to stop looking over her shoulder.

I don’t really think that I got to the point that I liked Elle — she’s a criminal, not one driven to it or forced to steal or anything. She made a choice at some point to steal and has stuck with it. She’s not particularly flamboyant about it — like Jim DiGriz or Nicholas Fox or anything. Her approach is clinical, serious, no-nonsense. So there’s none of the typical fictional trappings that make you like a thief character.

However, it wasn’t that far into the book when I realized that I was really invested in what’s going on with her — how is she going to escape the ramifications of what she’s seen? Is she being paranoid, or is there someone actually after her? Will she be able to bring them to justice without incriminating herself? How did they figure how who she was? Why were the original murders committed? Why isn’t anything happening with that video she left the police?

There are other characters — a couple that you get to spend some good time with, too. But this book is all about Elle. Like I said, I don’t think I ever liked Elle, but I appreciated her as a character. The other characters that are around for more than a few paragraphs are just interesting enough to justify their presence. Some bring out some interesting sides of Elle’s character or past. Others help us understand just what kind of mess she’s fallen into.

This is my third Thomas Perry book in the last year, and I was far more invested in the events of this than I was in either of the others — he kept reeling me in page by page. The pacing of this is great — just like Elle herself, Perry knows when to slow down and let you catch your breath and then when to dash off and leave you hanging on by your fingertips.Perry’s been at this for a while and it shows — he knows how to write a thriller.

Unlike many crime novels (including the other Perry novels), you don’t get to know anything about the murderers until the ending — you have an idea about them before the ending, but it’s not until the closing chapters that you actually learn anything. I loved that, I was just as much in the dark as Elle was. Perry didn’t get into the killer’s mindset or motivation at all. They were just out there, threatening Elle until she’s put the pieces together.

This was a fun read. It was gripping, it was unique, it was complex — and come to think of it, the motive for the killing and the crimes surrounding the murder aren’t like anything I remember in Crime Fiction. That alone makes it worth your while. Perry really delivered the goods with this one, and I encourage you to give it a shot.

—–

3.5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Grove Atlantic via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.

Dusted Off: Hello Kitty Must Die by Angela S. Choi

Having one of those days — have three new reviews partially done, and no time this morning to finish. So . . .

—–

Hello Kitty Must DieHello Kitty Must Die by Angela S. Choi

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’ve often felt conflicted about my appreciation for protagonists/leading characters who are murderers–professional hitmen (Peter Brown, Jimmy the Tulip, Martin Blank, Hawk, Jules Winnfield) or serial killers (Dexter Morgan, early Hannibal Lecter), but I can usually get over it because of what their creators do with them. But Angela S. Choi’s Fiona Fi Yu, from Hello Kitty Must Die, doesn’t get to join their ranks in my book. There’s little to commend her, or the book, if you ask me (which is sort of implied if you’ve read this far).

Fi is a successful, thirtysomething Chinese-American lawyer, living with her parents, who stumbles into serial killing (I’ll leave the details to those who read it). An unpleasant childhood, filled with overbearing parents, a strict Catholic school, and one sociopathic friend primes this perpetually single (and proud!) woman for an adulthood that’s even more unpleasant. Until the aforementioned stumbling, anyway. She’s a whiny, selfish, me-first person all the way, with a personality only a parakeet could love. Essentially, she’s a very unpleasant person–beyond the murdering. Sure, she can mix pop culture references into her narrative like Dennis Miller in his prime, but in a post-Tarantino/Whedon/Apatow/Abed Nadir age, is that really so noteworthy? Besides, if Humbert Humbert taught us nothing at all, he taught us that “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.”

What about the story itself? It starts off semi-promising, and then goes straight downhill from there. Well, let me amend that. It starts off offensively, but it’s a staged, calculated offensiveness. Choi trades in an actual narrative hook for a hook constructed of shock value. But a few pages later, it gets semi-promising. There’s no redemption of the character–not even growth. Nothing commendable about the events, characters, or cultural commentary.

On the other hand, it was a quick read.

Dusted Off: The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins

Well, while I enjoy my time in Tibbehah County, Mississippi with The Broken Places, figured I’d dig this one out of the archives

—–

The Lost Ones (Quinn Colson, #2)The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins
Series: Quinn Colson, #2
</br

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Atkins’ has left me cold with his Nick Travers series and I’m still trying to figure out how positively I feel about his take on Spenser (pretty sure it’s very), but there’s no doubt that this series about Quinn Colson just plain rocks.

This time, Colson’s been elected to sheriff, but he’s still learning the ropes, still more soldier than cop. He and his childhood friends (now mostly employed by Colson) have a lot to deal with: a recent Afghan war vet running drugs, a Mexican drug cartel, a child-abusing/selling family, not to mention a few more federal agents than Colson’s comfortable with. Plus a bunch of personal stuff (current and past), and the corrupt local government that Colson started wrangling with last time out.

Tense, fast-paced, morally murky…Atkins has really nailed this. Can’t wait for the next one.

P is for Peril by Sue Grafton

P is for Peril (Kinsey Millhone #16)P is for Peril by Sue Grafton
Series: Kinsey Millhone, #16

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, this is totally not surprising at all…a solid mystery novel, with plenty of satisfying twists and turns from Sue Grafton.

A name from the past (and one of my favorite Grafton books) refers Kinsey for another missing persons case — against her better judgement, she takes it and before too long finds herself in the middle of broken family politics, pouty teenagers, a potential stalker, and cases of grand theft, fraud, murder, and a handful of other brushes with human frailty and depravity.

I did rather enjoy all these voices from the 80s complaining about the labyrinth that is Medicare/Medicaid/other federal health regulations — if they only knew!

I do wish, and I don’t think I’ve complained about this before, but Kinsey blabs way too much — to friends (especially new ones), to suspects/interviewees/sources, and even to clients. Maybe it fits with the research that Grafton’s done about proper P.I.-ing, but man. Every time she starts to divulge information I want to reach into the book and slap my hand over her mouth. Seriously, lady, keep it to yourself.

The conclusion to this one is atypical — we don’t get resolution to any of they mysteries she’s involved with; well, we sort of get resolution to one of them, but it has nothing to do with any sleuthing on Kinsey’s part. The rest of the mysteries are solved by Kinsey, but we don’t see the resolution of the story line — we don’t even get the (often) heavy-handed wrap up where she reflects on the events of the novel. Nope. Not saying that’s good or bad (honestly, I’m not sure). It’s just not par for the course. Not sure why Grafton did it that way, but it worked this time (could get to be tiring if she keeps it up)