Thomas Perry Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Thomas Perry began his career writing thrillers about flawed heroes engaged in sometimes less-than-legal schemes and missions, who appear sympathetic only because their opponents are more morally reprehensible than they are. His best works in this vein are the two novels in the Butcher’s Boy series about a professional hit man. His later works, his most successful and popular novels, are those in a series about a Native American woman, Jane Whitefield, who helps make victimized people “disappear.” Whitefield is a capable, believable, and sympathetic hero who resorts to force only when necessary and uses her intelligence and culture to defeat her foes.

Perry’s later novels have been uneven because he has eschewed a series hero and his protagonists are sometimes bystanders who are drawn into investigating a mystery by their characters or circumstances. However, Perry remains a master at structure, pacing, constructing believable plots, and creating sympathetic and plausible characters.

Thomas Perry Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Baker, Jeff. “Perry Won’t Be Killing Her Off.” The Oregonian, January 26, 2001, p. 9. Perry explains why he is not through with Jane Whitefield yet.

Perry, Thomas. Thomas Perry. Perry’s Web site, with information about upcoming publications, notes by Perry on each of his previous books, a list of upcoming appearances, and contact information.

Perry, Thomas. “Thomas Perry: Dead Aim Author Talks with Robert Birnbaum.” Interview by Robert Birnbaum. The best and most comprehensive of the many online interviews with Perry, it discusses his career, his attitudes toward writing, and his relationship with Hollywood, among other topics.

Reilly, John M., Clive Bloom, and Paul Cobley. “Thriller.” In The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing, edited by Rosemary Herbert. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. This article, while it does not mention Perry’s work, shows that in a sense Perry’s novels combine elements of both the action thriller and the psychological thriller.

Smith, Julie. “Of Metzger’s Dog and Perry’s Cats.” Armchair Detective 17 (Spring, 1984): 132-134. Informative article about Perry as a part-time fiction writer at the beginning of his career.

Stasio, Marilyn. “Shape Shifter.” Review of Nightlife, by Thomas Perry. The New York Times Book Review, April 9, 2007, 33. Places the novel in the context of themes that run throughout Perry’s fiction from the beginning of his career.