Thomas Perry won the Edgar Award for The Butcher’s Boy (1982); he is also the author of the best-selling Jane Whitefield series and other stand-alone thrillers. Reviewed: Silence ( Selection Nov/Dec 2007) and Nightlife ( May/June 2006).
The Story: When thieves repeatedly rob Los Angeles mobster and strip-club owner Manco Kapak, he orders his men to find the perpetrators. His guys, however, wrongly pinpoint Joe Carver, a former bar owner with a new identity and loads of cash. Now gangsters are on his tail, and with the real thief continuing to rob Kapak, Carver decides to mount an attack against the gangster. Add an LAPD lieutenant with two wives and five children, an adrenaline junkie, a bodyguard, and other shady characters, and the stage is set for double crosses and deadly consequences.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 344 pages. $26. ISBN: 9780151015221
New York Times
"Without sacrificing his story’s comic style, one that’s atypically ebullient for an author who is more often coolly calculating, he begins making sure that everyone will get whatever he or she deserves. ... When [the ending’s] artifice is finally pulled away (see title), this book winds up most memorable for its all but invisible sleight of hand." Janet Maslin
NY Times Book Review
"Thomas Perry, that smiling sadist who gets his kicks from outfoxing readers, is at his wicked best in Strip. ... But because a devious mind is manipulating the genre conventions--allowing unpredictable characters rather than precision-tooled action to drive his story--the rules of the game are constantly changing." Marilyn Stasio
"Thomas Perry is probably too good for his own good--too adaptable a craftsman for the gimmicky flourishes that confer superstardom on lesser writers. ... It’s a pulp world, but with characters so affectionately developed that nothing bad happens to anyone you don’t care about." Jeremy Jehu
Dallas Morning News
"[Perry] seems preoccupied with process: how Kapak’s business works, how [the lieutenant] maintains two households, how Carver wounds Kapak financially. The accretion of detail lends credibility to a plot that might otherwise seem farfetched." Shawna Seed
Many critics commented that the plethora of characters and subplots might have undermined Strip’s power, but they all agreed that Perry’s talent in weaving together seemingly loose strands makes the book an unqualified success. The intriguing, action-oriented characters--each with his or her own agenda--captivated reviewers, some of whom ended up rooting for even the bad guys. "The wonderful characters keep on coming," noted the New York Times Book Review. Although they start off as "familiar types ... once Perry lets them loose, they refuse to go back in the box." The action is packed, and the denouement is a small masterpiece. What more could readers want?