Friday, July 18, 2008

Forgotten Books

Internet personality and crime writer Patti Abbott invited The Famous Author to participate in Forgotten Book Friday today, so naturally the next chapter of my latest adventure is being postponed until tomorrow. TFA treats me like a slave, I tell you. Is this MY blog, or his? The only saving grace--well, actually, there's a couple: We like Patti and her daughter, recent Edgar winner Megan Abbott; TFA says it's good publicity for our series; and best of all, TFA picked one of our favorite stories to write about.

With no more grumbling from me, here's TFA's entry in Forgotten Book Friday for July 18, 2008. Read what a dozen other authors are picking as their favorite forgotten book by clicking the headline FORGOTTEN BOOKS and jumping to Patti's site.

Sleeping Dogs by Thomas Perry, Reviewed by Jack Getze

Browsing the bookstore in 1992, looking for a new crime novel, the title SLEEPING DOGS caught my eye. I’d never heard of its author, Thomas Perry, but the back cover copy closed the sale.

“He calls himself Michael Shaeffer, says he’s a retired American businessman. He goes to the races, dates a kinky aristocrat, and sleeps with dozens of weapons. Ten years ago it was different. Then, he was the Butcher’s Boy, the highly skilled mob hit man who pulled a slaughter job on some double-crossing clients and started a mob war. Ever since there’s been a price on his head.”

I put the book down once and only once. It was that first night, and in the first chapter. It was late. I was tired. The opening seemed a little slow. A mysterious man meets an English lady. But the next day, when I got through chapter one and started two, wow. I was hooked, off and running with no time for family, work, or the hobbies which then consumed me. I had to follow Michael’s story until it finished. The mob had found him in England, and although he’d made short work of two hired assassins there, Michael had decided there was nothing to do but go back to the United States and...

Kill them all.

Over 300 pages later, I put down one of the best reads I’ve even been fortunate enough to stumble across. If someone had asked me in the middle of it, is Thomas Perry a good writer, a wordsmith, I would have had to answer, I don’t know. I’m not paying attention to the words. I am inside this story, living it with Michael Shaeffer, and please do not interrupt me again.

The phrase nonstop action is overused. Pick up ten books, you’ll see one reviewer say that about five of them. But nonstop action in a crime novel could be defined by SLEEPING DOGS. When Michael returns to the U.S., it’s one confrontation after another, one man hunt after another, a new name change in a new city with new dangers.

You never get to catch your breath, even in the brief flashbacks. Check out page 69 in my 1992 paperback:

“Eddie Mastrewski must have been about forty on the winter day in Cleveland when they had sat in the car and watched the man walking through the snow toward the parking lot, and had both realized that if Eddie used his gun someone would Eddie chased the man down and killed him quietly with a tire chain.”

Today, of course, Thomas Perry is a staple of the industry and my library. I buy each one of his new novels in hardback, hoping upon hope that this new one will match the intensity and sheer joyful reading of SLEEPING DOGS. Mr. Perry comes close each time, close enough to please me and make me glad I bought the book.

But I’ve never read another one of his, or any other author, that pulled me through a story beginning to end like SLEEPING DOGS.

Thanks, Patti, for asking The Boss to participate. I just love giving up my blog space to TFA. AC


pattinase (abbott) said...

And thanks for a terrific review of a book I must read.

Austin Carr said...

Gee, I didn't think The Boss's review was THAT good.

Paul Sinn said...

Before you lose yourself in "Sleeping Dogs", read Perry's Edgar-winning stunning debut "Butcher's Boy" first. I must have read these two over a dozen times now. Still amaze me after all these years.

Austin Carr said...

TFA spent two years searching for Butcher's Boy back in the early 90s, but when he finally found a copy, he thought the first tale did not measure up to the second in the series. Go figure. But we're a big fan of Perry's Jane W series, too, and looking forward to reading the new one.

Barrie said...

You only put the book down once? That's saying A LOT! Thanks for the review!

sonny said...

loved 'sleeping dogs' and i liked 'butcher's boy' more than you (guys) it sounds like, but i would agree that it's worth readin 'b's boy' first and then 'dogs'

btw, guess what i thought TFA stood for before i saw it spelled out? it's not hard, considering my foul mind and austin's attitude toward TFA