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Nightlife: A Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

Thomas Perry

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Book Description

May 29 2007
Thomas Perry’s novels of suspense have been celebrated for their “dazzling ingenuity” (The New York Times Book Review) and for writing that is “as sharp as a sushi knife” (Los Angeles Times). By turns horrifying and erotic, Perry’s new thriller takes us on a dangerous cat-and-mouse game that pits two women against each other: a beautiful serial killer and the detective who is determined to stop her.

When the cousin of Los Angeles underworld figure Hugo Poole is found shot to death in his Portland, Oregon, home, police find nothing at the scene of the crime except several long strands of blond hair hinting that a second victim may have been involved. Hotel security tapes from the victim’s last vacation reveal an out-of-focus picture of a young blond woman entering and leaving his room. Could she also be a murder victim?

Portland homicide detective Catherine Hobbes is determined to solve the case and locate the missing blonde, but her feelings, and the investigation, are complicated when Hugo hires private detective Joe Pitt to perform a parallel investigation. As the Joe and Catherine form an uneasy alliance, the murder count rises–and both realize that the pretty young woman in the security tapes is not a victim at all.

As Catherine follows the evidence, she finds herself in a deadly contest with an unpredictable adversary capable of changing her appearance and identity at will. Catherine must use everything she knows, as a homicide detective and as a woman, to stop a murderer who kills on impulse and with ease, and who becomes more efficient and elusive with each crime.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (May 29 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345496000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345496003
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 16.5 x 17.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 23 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #834,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Serial killer Charlene Buckner—aka Tanya Starling, Rachel Sturbridge, Nancy Mills, and several other monikers—changes her identity each time she commits a murder. By the end of Perry's mesmerizing novel (Pursuit; The Butcher's Boy), Charlene has racked up an impressive body count and her own personal Rolodex of bogus names. Yes, as a child she had a slutty mom, and yes, she was abandoned in her late teens, but her life story is hardly the horror show of most fictional serial killers. Perry patiently shows that it doesn't necessarily take child molestation and brutality to create a murderer. "She was just a regular person who had always wanted what everybody else wanted—to be happy." Portland police detective Sgt. Catherine Hobbes investigates Charlene's first kill, Dennis Poole, and follows close behind her, always just a little too late to catch Charlene or save her latest victim, as Charlene moves on to San Francisco, L.A., Las Vegas and other locales, where she pauses just long enough to commit another murder. Hobbes has her own issues, and by the end the two women have grown close not only in proximity but in identity as well. Reinterpreting conventions and confounding readers' expectations with fascinating characters, this is Perry at his best. (Mar. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Perry, whose many thrillers have won numerous awards, including an Edgar for The Butcher's Boy (1982), returns with another nail-biter. The center of interest for Portland Homicide is a female serial killer, whom the reader sees in chapters devoted to her as a shape-shifter and a highly skilled manipulator of men and situations. The police catch on to the tip of this iceberg woman when the cousin of an L.A. Mob figure is found shot to death in his home in Portland--two blond hairs matching his girlfriend's are left at the scene. Portland homicide detective Catherine Hobbes uneasily accepts the help of an L.A. private eye known for both his expertise and his arrogance. This novel's intensity comes from the skillful way in which Perry lets readers in on the secrets of the serial killer: we see her change disguises and identities; we see her pick up and destroy men. We see more than the police and the private eye do, as they try to find the woman they suspect killed the Portland man, and as we see her leave that old identity far, far behind. Perry also offers a complex character in detective Catherine Hobbes as she races against the private eye to catch a protean killer. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  54 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Thomas Perry's best work March 27 2006
By Larry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Thomas Perry has written some modern classic suspense novels such as the Edgar Award winning THE BUTCHER'S BOY. He has created some interesting and strong female protagonists. His latest effort, NIGHTLIFE, features again some very strong female protagonists- one a serial killer and the other the cop pursuing her.

Hugo Poole is a major crime figure living in LA. When a cousin of his is found murdered in his Oregon home, Poole hires retired detective Joe Pitt to find his cousin's killer. Catherine Hobbes is the Portland homicide detective assigned to the case. As Catherine looks into the killing, she discovers that the killer is a female who has established a relationship with her victim. In fact, the killer is a woman of many identities who has made a habit of dating then killing men. Catherine publicly begins to pursue the killer. Unfortunately, the killer begins to feel boxed in by Catherine and decides to murder her pursuer.

Thomas Perry knows how to weave a compelling tale. Unfortunately, in this latest work, he lacked a certain focus. The plot meandered and quite often his story would wander off on tangents that might lead a reader to wonder about the editing. For example, he describes a minor character with great care and detail over the span of several pages only to kill them off ten pages later. The ending comes so suddenly with virtually no denouement that the reader might be left scratching their head. This is not Thomas Perry's best effort. I would recommend some of his earlier works such as PURSUIT or DEAD AIM which were just republished in attractive trade paperbacks.
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potentially a terrific book, but it went sideways March 16 2006
By Brian Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I won't summarize the entire novel, as you can see that in the publishing reviews.

A new Thomas Perry book has always been a long-anticipated treat, from "Butcher's Boy" through the Jane Whitfield series and right up to the present, usually made all the more welcome due to the sporadic timing of his works; Perry doesn't follow the usual one-per-year schedule of most popular fiction writers.

From the start, "Nightlife" is a grabber, introducing one of the best female villains ever in his central antagonist (who goes by many names throughout the story), and very effectively portraying her as a total sociopath - it's an absolutely riveting depiction.

He also introduces a couple of other fascinating characters: Hugo Poole (in what has to be one of the best character intros in contemporary fiction) and Joe Pitt. Both of these characters are fascinating: unique, compelling, memorable. Poole is a shady underworld character with a strong set of values, a take-no-prisoners attitude, and the stones to carry it all off. Pitt is a retired DA's investigator, ex-cop, lady's man, the kind of guy you want at your back in a dark alley.

Perry's third protagonist is Catherine Hobbes, a Portland PD detective trying to track down the murderous antagonist. Another well-delineated character, though not nearly as interesting as either Poole or Pitt.

The story moves along briskly at first, as the antagonist moves from city to city ( and identity to identity ) in her efforts to stay ahead of the law, killing her victims along the way.

But for me, it all goes sideways about two thirds of the way through. Earlier in the book, we'd seen Poole fall very far into the background of the story ( a terrible waste of a fascinating character ). Suddenly Pitt ( a love interest for Catherine, among other things in the story ) does the same, all but disappearing from the remainder of the story. The action grinds down to a snail's-pace ( I hate to say it, but I almost gave up on this book at that point ) as the antagonist kind of flails around with juggling identities and Catherine seems to be noodling around Portland contemplating her navel.

We finally reach the final confrontation in the climax, but it was very unsatisfying, almost perfunctory. It certainly did a disservice to a book that started out so well. In my opinion this book would have been much better if Pitt, and especially Poole, had been more central to the story with Catherine being a peripheral character.

Oh, well. Three stars.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great suspense story March 11 2006
By Mariana Chaffee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I always read a new Thomas Perry novel as soon as possible, then, over time, I re-read them. He's that good. I loved this one -- the serial killer is both fascinating and frighteningly banal. That's quite a trick. I liked the heroine, Catherine Hobbs, and I liked watching her mind work. She is intelligent and observant, logical and dedicated. Good characters, and wonderful writing. Go buy it, read it, then try his other books. I'm particularly partial to "Metzger's Dog", but really, I've enjoyed them all. Perry does not repeat himself, and he is always excellent. Read him.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Beginning: Poor Climax July 13 2006
By N. Bilmes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The first 2/3 of this book were excellent, and up to the standards set by Perry's earlier thrillers. The last 1/3 of the book bogs down as it delves deeply into the mind of the villain as the narrative focuses on her more and more. This wouldn't be so bad if this examination of her psyche were mixed in with some action or dialogue, but there is no mixing. Where most thrillers would be racing to their breakneck conclusion, this one limps. For the first time ever, I found myself skimming a Thomas Perry book, and the ending couldn't come fast enough.

Read 'Butcher's Boy' or 'Metzger's Dog,' both of which are earlier Perry books. You'll be happy you chose one of those instead of this.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who Shall I Be Today? May 21 2006
By Ben F. Small - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Charlene Buckner has a screw loose and she's dissembling. A former beauty pageant kid, she craved attention from her mother. But her mother was more interested in the attention such pageants brought her than how they benefited her daughter. So the mother left poor Charlene, and that's when the screw fell out.

Since then, Charlene's used her wits, her beauty and her innate smarts to survive. She's a chameleon, changing her look, her colors, her name and place whenever the need arises. And change she must, for Charlene's left bodies in her wake with nearly every transformation. But it's not blood lust that drives Charlene, it's expedience, the need to escape and to cut all ties. But now Charlene has Portland Detective Sergeant Catherine Hobbes on her trail, and she's being dogged from Oregon to California, to Arizona and on. For someone who kills for expedience, the best move is to eliminate what's threatening you. And that's Catherine Hobbes.

In NIGHTLIFE Thomas Perry has written a taut suspense thriller that crackles with pace and tension. Bravo. The only criticism? The book seems written on the fly. Early characters, early direction seem to drop out, as if the author wasn't sure where the book was going. Still, good writers write good books. NIGHTLIFE was well worth the read.

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