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Nightlife: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – May 29 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Perry's latest novel reveals an intricate relationship between a ruthless serial killer and the dedicated detective determined to bring her in. Portland homicide detective Catherine Hobbes is investigating the murder of a computer salesman. Evidence suggests that there may have been another victim—a woman known as Tanya Starling—but Hobbes is soon convinced that Starling is in fact the murderer. What follows is a complex game of cat and mouse as Hobbes pursues a killer without conscience who changes her looks and identity with chameleon-like ease. As Hobbes draws closer to her quarry, the tables shift, and the detective becomes the prey. With a cool, calculated delivery, Shelly Frasier supplies just the right tone for this psychological thriller. Easily flipping from one narrative viewpoint to another, Frasier is especially good when expressing Starling's inner thoughts. The scenes where Starling plans and implements her murders are chilling in their cold pragmatism, yet there are moments, such as when Starling flirts with one of her victims over dinner, that are as charming as any romantic comedy. Nicely produced by Tantor, this audiobook makes for excellent listening.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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.