Forty Thieves by Thomas Perry

Reviewed by Richard Goldman
Hardcover December 2015

Buy it at Mystery Lovers Bookshop

OK, I'll admit it--I've never met a Thomas Perry book that I didn't like so maybe I'm not the best source for a disinterested opinion. Nonetheless, several Edgar Awards would suggest that this guy can really write a book and we certainly sold a ton of his books to fans when we ran Mystery Lovers Bookshop so maybe I'm not alone in my opinion.

Last summer while recovering from eye surgery I had to spend a week face down which kind of limited my reading and television time so I turned to audio and listened to, among other things, two earlier Perry books including The Butcher's Boy which was Perry's first and his Edgar winner for a best first novel. Thirty years on and this book still sizzles in it portrayal of a hit man protagonist and his pursuit by a determined FBI agent. The alternating point of view that converges has by now become a trope of suspense fiction but Perry's way of pulling of the convergence still startles after all these years.

Anyway, that brings us to Forty Thieves, which is a standalone novel. At it's center is the murder of a research scientist who was killed for no apparent reason. Months after the murder his body is recovered and his company hires the husband-and-wife PI team of Sid and Ronnie Abel to look into what is now a cold case. Meanwhile, another husband and wife team, this time of assassins, is looking into Sid and Ronnie. What unfolds is a skillfully plotted cat and mouse game where neither party really understands entirely what is going on but where the consequences can be deadly. Both couples are appealing in their own way although our sympathies are entirely with the Abels. As always, Perry dots the book with little gems of investigative methods or tradecraft and provides an imaginative solution to the puzzle.

If you're already a Perry fan you'll certainly enjoy, if not--what are you waiting for?