STARRED REVIEW
January 12, 2016

Married couple vs. married couple

By Thomas Perry
Review by

Bestselling author Thomas Perry loves plans, escapes and perfect getaways. He also has a low-key, sardonic sense of humor and is a master at creating witty and likable thieves that we end up rooting for, often over the more straight-and-narrow option. All of these keystones are in place in Perry’s most recent standalone thriller, Forty Thieves—and there are at least that many iffy characters tumbling around in this winning novel.

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Bestselling author Thomas Perry loves plans, escapes and perfect getaways. He also has a low-key, sardonic sense of humor and is a master at creating witty and likable thieves that we end up rooting for, often over the more straight-and-narrow option. All of these keystones are in place in Perry’s most recent standalone thriller, Forty Thieves—and there are at least that many iffy characters tumbling around in this winning novel.

One year has passed since the body of research scientist James Ballantine was found stuffed in a storm drain, and the crime has gone unsolved. Enter two husband/wife teams, each hired for separate reasons connected with the case. Private detectives and former LAPD cops Sid and Ronnie Abel are hired by Ballantine’s former employers to pick up the dropped threads of the earlier investigation and to search out the killer. Ed and Nicole Hoyt are skilled assassins hired by a middleman to stop the Abels from completing their assignment.

Perry is skilled at developing the backstories of this at-odds quartet, and readers may find their sympathies meandering all over the place. All four are handy with their weaponry, and the good guy/bad guy labels may get a bit murky at times. Also, there’s another picturesque gang behind the Ed/Nicole hire, and readers may grow to like them, too: a bunch of Russian diamond thieves who really just want to retire quietly in southern California after an exhausting career.

For all who’ve never read a Perry novel, an unforgettable experience awaits. The author cuts the hyperbole and offers blow-by-blow descriptions of a series of game plans as they’re activated and carried out with varying degrees of success. The writing is spare, literal and droll at the same time, often reminiscent of the late Donald Westlake’s intrigues with his steely Parker and comic Dortmunder characters.

Forty Thieves is an adrenaline rush, as fast-moving vehicles crisscross like searchlights arcing across an urban night sky, as Ed, Nicole, Sid and Ronnie engage in their exciting game of search and destroy. As for the victim whose murder started the whole thing off, he may be the character you’ll end up liking least of all. And it may not be giving too much away to say that to work it all out, it’s “cherchez la femme” from start to finish.

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Forty Thieves

Forty Thieves

By Thomas Perry
Mysterious Press
ISBN 9780802124524

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