Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Book: The Butcher’s Boy, by Thomas Perry (1982)

On his website, Perry voices concern that his Edgar-award winning debut “would seem confusing, or even quaint” upon being reissued in 2003. He needn’t have worried. This thriller, about a methodical hit man and the FBI agent on his trail who’s not even sure her quarry exists, remains a lethal piece of work. The reprint includes an excellent introduction by Michael Connelly, who offers as good an explanation of the mechanics of suspense as I’ve ever read. And he ought to know.

Book: Shoot to Kill, by Wade Miller (1951)

A Mystery*File interview with Robert Wade, one half of this writing team (along with Bill Miller), led me to pick up this book. It’s the last in the Max Thursday series, and one that plays with the P.I. archetype in some fascinating ways. Plenty of twists packed into 179 lean pages.

The edition I have is a Harper Perennial reprint from 1993 featuring some truly lame blurbs. “Eminently satisfactory,” says the New York Times. The Herald Tribune calls it “steadily absorbing,” while the Saturday Review of Literature praises it as an “honest job.” I’ll bet they could have found someone to describe it as “bracingly adequate” if they’d looked hard enough.

Book: A Ghost of a Chance, by Bill Crider (2000)

You won’t find better company on a transcontinental flight than Bill’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes. And great atmosphere to boot.

Miscellaneous: Links

Amazon encourages its reviewers to end their anonymity. Slate explains how Jane Smiley gets so many letters to the New York Times published. She should be happy with one, like I am. (It appeared December 15, 2003, if you’re playing along at home.) And here’s a beautiful website that has prompted me to use the word ‘conquistador’ more often.