three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
22-May-June-2006
By: 
Thomas Perry
user_rating: 
0

A-NightlifeWhen a man is found shot to death in his Portland home, police suspect that a second victim—a woman with long blond hair—may also have been involved in the crime. The young woman, however, is far from a murder victim; she’s the killer. As the cool, businesslike homicide detective Catherine Hobbes starts to follow a trail of dead bodies, she strives to understand the killer, Charlene, who changes her identity in each new city, manipulates her male victims, and seemingly kills at whim. But as Hobbes tracks her female adversary from Portland to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, she starts to understand the killer’s mind all too well.
Random House. 384 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 1400060044

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"A lot of care and ingenuity have gone into the suspenseful chessboard plotting of this story. … Nightlife is especially devilish in its calculations about how best to move anonymously through the American landscape." Janet Maslin

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The long: Thanks to Perry’s skill, Nightlife rises above the serial-killer genre. … He seems to have some of Larry McMurtry’s insight into the female mind." Harry Levins

Arizona Republic 3 of 5 Stars
"Within the first 95 pages she stabs a woman to death, shoots two men, and pushes another from an eighth-floor balcony. … Perry alternates between Hobbes’s point of view and that of the killer, giving us so much background on the latter that it becomes tedious." Anne Stephenson

Critical Summary

Thomas Perry, author of the Edgar Award–winning The Butcher’s Boy, the five-volume Jane Whitefield series, and other best-selling novels, has taken typical elements of an ordinary crime thriller and given them an unusual, erotic twist. The New York Times compares Nightlife’s psychological impact to that of The Silence of the Lambs and Mystic River: we’re not dealing with a stock killer but a rather ordinary young woman turned bad. Critics agree that Perry successfully delves deep inside the female psyche with chapters narrated from both Hobbes’s and the murderer’s perspectives. A little haphazard storytelling, with characters flitting in and out of chapters, confused some critics, but overall, Nightlife is a smart, engaging read.