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Silenceby Thomas Perry
Synopses & Reviews
Six years ago, Jack Till helped Wendy Harper disappear. But now her ex-boyfriend and former business partner, Eric Fuller, is being framed for her presumed murder in an effort to smoke her out, and Till must find her before tango-dancing assassins Paul and Sylvie Turner do.
The Turners are merely hired to do a job, though, and prefer to remain anonymous. When they find that a middleman has let the true employer know their identities, finishing the job is no longer enough. Their fee just went up. And now they must double-cross the man who wants Wendy dead before he can double-cross them — if their jealousy and cold-blooded calculations don't result in a fatal lovers' quarrel first.
With masterful plotting and unnerving psychological insight, Perry delivers another mesmerizing thrill ride.
"Thomas Perry has written a slew of well-regarded novels — this is his 15th — but he's best known for his Jane Whitefield series, which stars a woman who helps people disappear. The Whitefield books can fairly be called chase novels, in that killers are invariably hot on the heels of Jane and her clients, and sometimes she turns the tables and starts after them as well. Perry's 'Silence' is also... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) a chase story, but Whitefield has been replaced by a new, male hero. It's a long, engrossing and ambitious novel. Perry is a master of plot twists and surprises, but this time he's gone all out for character development. In 'Silence,' we get to know at least six men and women well, most of them better than we might want to. That in-depth focus makes the novel unusually long for a thriller but also unusually interesting. Wendy, the attractive co-owner of a popular Los Angeles restaurant, is attacked by a man with a baseball bat. Wendy thinks she knows who wants her dead and, rather than take her chances with the police, decides to start a new life elsewhere. She makes her way to Jack Till, a former LAPD detective turned private investigator; he teaches her how to create a new identity and sends her on her way. Six years later, it becomes life or death for Till to find Wendy. It develops that two highly skilled professional killers are looking for her, too. They are a husband-and-wife team, Paul and Sylvie, stylish psychopaths who enjoy dancing the tango when they aren't rubbing people out. We learn a lot about all four of these characters. Jack is a single father raising a daughter with Down syndrome. Wendy had found happiness in the restaurant business before she was forced to flee and entered a marriage of convenience. Paul learned as a teenager that he enjoyed killing and decided to make a career of it. Sylvie was earning a good living as a porn star before she married a porn executive she came to hate. Tall, handsome Paul came along, killed her husband and married her. From time to time, Perry simply halts the action and gives us detailed histories of his characters. That's risky, but he makes it work because their stories are variously violent, colorful and all too human. He spices things up with tidbits like this from the porn world: 'All actresses in adult cinema liked to do girl-on-girl scenes because they were so much easier, less dangerous and strenuous than regular sex.' Much of the novel is devoted to Jack trying to get Wendy safely back to Los Angeles with the two killers in pursuit. Perry is very good at explaining how, in a world of credit cards, phone records, surveillance cameras and computers, almost anyone can be found by a determined pursuer. The chase story covers a lot of countryside, and he's also good at sketching the terrain: 'Las Vegas was garish and vulgar and extravagant. It was an endless river of people who thought the rules of the universe were about to change, so this time they would end up with the money and the casino owners would end up with a hangover.' Once the action returns to Los Angeles, Perry's story intensifies. He was a writer-producer in television before he wrote novels, and he knows all the nastiness of life in that city's fast lanes. He details the twisted lives of a lawyer who went from defending criminals to partnering with them, and of a record company executive who is more than willing to kill to expand his power. In one particularly acidulous scene, the record mogul lets himself be seduced by his corporate boss' wife, who hates her husband even more than he does. He muses that he's 'in a business where death stalked people who weren't fashionable.' In the world of this novel, paranoia is realism because killing is the norm. One of the book's few weak spots is the predictable romance that develops between good guys Jack and Wendy. Paul and Sylvie, the tango-dancing killers, are more interesting, not because they're homicidal but because they're married and suffer the frustrations that generally accompany that condition. After one spat, Paul is 'almost sure that she was saving up the complete list of his offenses and trying out in her mind different ways of saying them so they would inflict the maximum pain.' Sylvie is also annoyed: 'That need that men had to assert, to insist, to instruct, was infuriating.' Most married people will recognize these sentiments; fortunately, most married people are not well-armed professional assassins. One of the novel's more interesting questions is not whether Paul and Sylvie will kill poor Wendy but whether they'll kill each other. It's fun finding out. " Reviewed by Reviewed By Brigitte Weeks, a former editor of The Washington Post Book WorldCarolyn See, who can be reached at www.carolynsee.comLouis Bayard, a novelist and reviewer critic in Washington, D.C.Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
"Silence moves suspensefully from near miss to near miss....Longer than usual for its genre, Silence takes the richly methodical approach that works so well for Mr. Perry and remains steadily surprising." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Perry is the grand poobah of the running-away narrative...and he's at the top of his cat-and-mouse game in Silence....[Perry's] complex characters, including a pair of insanely appealing villains, are all the more attractive for being so devious and untrustworthy." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Although the pace is almost leisurely, there's plenty of action and the characters are nicely developed, including the hired killers. It's this character development, along with realistic dialog, that make Perry's latest better than most suspense novels....Recommended." Library Journal
"[A] long, engrossing and ambitious novel. Perry is a master of plot twists and surprises, but this time he's gone all out for character development....That in-depth focus makes the novel unusually long for a thriller but also unusually interesting." Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post Book World
"Perry is a connoisseur of detachment and an expert in Los Angeles and its subcultures....Tone and suspense blend well here." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Silence is ingenious, a runaway train-paced thriller from the devilish Thomas Perry." George Pelecanos, author of The Night Gardner
"In Silence, [Perry] is at the top of his game....Paul and Sylvie Turner [are] two of the most interesting villains you never want to meet....Clear prose and page-turning suspense make [Silence] a quick and enjoyable summer read." Associated Press
Six years ago, Jack Till helped Wendy Harper disappear. Now her ex-boyfriend and former business partner, Eric Fuller, is being framed for her presumed murder in an effort to smoke her out. Till must find her before tango-dancing assassins Paul and Sylvie Turner do.
About the Author
Thomas Perry is the author of the Jane Whitefield series as well as the bestselling novels Nightlife, Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for Best Novel. He won an Edgar Award for The Butcher's Boy, and Metzger's Dog was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in Southern California.
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