Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thomas Perry's STRIP

A week 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 pester, at times) if I was going to read something by him anytime soon, I'd have exasperatedly said, "I don't know." The TBR pile is pretty high right now, and is only growing like my two kids (which in their case is good, but the opposite is true for that 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. I had the Jack Till standalone, Silence, on my Audible wish list, too. But, I confess that's been there for months now (and nothing seemed to be urging me on to download the work). I'd have said things were unlikely to change anytime soon. That is 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 book review by Janet Maselin, Affable Thugs, Playful Crimes, Rough Justice, of Perry's new novel, Strip. And it's the "... veers close to Elmore Leonard territory" line that got my attention. I had to see for myself (by circumventing the pile) if dropping the [doffs his cap] Elmore Leonard 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 come 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 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 quartet to follow (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 listening to the Tantor Media's unabridged audiobook, expertly narrated by Michael Kramer I must say, I was caught flatfooted 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):

I guess I'll have to make do by downloading that audiobook left in the Audible queue after all.

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  1. Since you enjoyed this book so much, Michael, I want to recommend two more titles to add to your growing list: Perry's early book, METZGER'S DOG, is a wonderfully funny story about a gang of thieves who happen upon the CIA blueprints on how to bring a city to its knees, so the thieves decide to see how it works on Los Angeles. And Declan Burke's  THE BIG O, which I found even funnier (although the characters were less sympathetic) than STRIP.

    You felt bad for Kapak, didn't you?

  2. Yep, sure did. Thanks for the book recommendations by this fine author, and your comment, Naomi.

  3. I have another Perry recommendation for you - "The Butcher's Boy," which I think is the best novel I've ever read about a hit man.

  4. Thanks, Jeff. I'm adding it to that pile of mine.

    Now I'm kicking myself for delaying my first read of this author.

  5. Pop Culture NerdJune 3, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    That Elmore Leonard comparison caught my eye, too. If you're confirming it's not hyperbole, then I'm heading straight to the library to pick it up. If it's checked out, I'll go to the house of the person who has it and bribe them with cookies to give it to me.

  6. If you enjoy Elmore Leonard, you must give this one a try (plus the ones Naomi and Jeff recommend, too). Thanks, Elyse.

  7. I think I'm losing my mind. I thought I left  you a comment on this post. I wanted to say I'm going to pick this one up too. You liked it and Naomi cited a great line from it when I did my "They Said What?" post, so I'm really intrigued to check it out.

    Thanks Michael! I also see you've got PRINT THE LEGEND on your iPod. Can't wait to hear how you like it!

  8. I'm glad I gave Thomas Perry, and this book, a go. Let me know how you like it. I know PTL is going to be quite something. Thanks a bunch, Jen.