(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.