Thursday, 31 January 2019
THOMAS PERRY - THE BURGLAR (2019)
From the New York Times best-selling author Thomas Perry, "who can be depended upon to deliver high-voltage shocks" (Stephen King), comes a new thriller about an unlikely burglar - a young woman in her 20s - who realizes she must solve a string of murders or else become the next victim.
Elle Stowell is a young woman with an unconventional profession: burglary. But Elle is no petty thief - with just the right combination of smarts, looks, and skills, she can easily stroll through ritzy Bel Air neighborhoods and pick out the perfect home for plucking the most valuable items. This is how Elle has always gotten by - she is good at it, and she thrives on the thrill. But after stumbling upon a grisly triple homicide while stealing from the home of a wealthy art dealer, Elle discovers she is no longer the only one sneaking around. Somebody is searching for her.
As Elle realizes her knowledge of the high-profile murder has made her a target, she races to solve the case before becoming the next casualty, using her breaking-and-entering skills to uncover the truth about exactly who the victims were and why someone might have wanted them dead.
With high-stakes action and shocking revelations, The Burglar will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they barrel toward the heart-racing conclusion.
I read Thomas Perry's The Butcher Boy many years ago and loved it. Since then I've tried a few more of his books in the hope that they hit the same heights - Metzger's Dog (3/5) and in 2013 - The Boyfriend (4/5). His latest, The Burglar was my third attempt to recreate the euphoria of that first exciting reading experience. Oh well, maybe the next one then.
Elle is our burglar. She's young, single, attractive, capable, fit and she's also a bit one dimensional, shallow, too clever by half and not someone I felt a great deal of empathy for. As the novel is 99% her, that's a bit of a problem.
Elle burgles a house, stumbles on a triple homicide that was recorded on camera and then subsequently finds herself targeted. Initially she thinks it's the police on her trail, but after witnessing the killing of a couple of other opportunist burglars by her nemesis, eventually realises she's involved in something far more dangerous.
I was really enjoying this one up to about page 60 or so, before coming to the realisation that it was just a bit too improbable, the plot was more than a bit weak, the main character a bit too much of a cardboard cut-out, a bit too stupid in some of her actions, to be as clever as she's being sold to me, and while I was still turning the pages at pace, from then I just wasn't that invested in the outcome.
Towards the back end of the book it gets worse. I think I might have rolled my eyes that many times they were suffering from RSI by the conclusion. Elle breaks into her foe's facilities to turn the tables and spy on them and the list of kit she carried with her was more in keeping with a team of firefighters attending a major incident. On her second visit to the enemy HQ, she somewhat conveniently overhears the boss of the local outfit explaining to his boss all of what he's been up to, thus rather lazily joining up the dots for the reader. You might expect to encounter this from a rather less skilled author than someone of Mr Perry's stature and reputation. Maybe he's written one too many books.
Positives - it flowed. I did enjoy the tension built earlier in the novel, between Elle and her Canadian suitor, while she tried to determine if he was who he claimed to be or if it was all a cover for getting close before killing her. I did also enjoy the scam being worked by our three homicide victims and the other party to their scheme. That was about it though. Oh, the LA setting worked for me as well.
On balance, just about a 3 from 5, borderline 2.5. I didn't hate it. I didn't at any point long to be reading anything else. I was just a bit disappointed and underwhelmed.
I'll approach my next Thomas Perry novel with a bit more caution and slightly lower expectations.
Read - January, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 302
Source - Net Galley, courtesy of Mysterious Press
Format - ePub file read on laptop