Saturday, June 02, 2007

Underappreciated Gems by Thomas Perry

If you're interested in crime fiction, you owe it to yourself to check out The Rap Sheet's ONE BOOK PROJECT. They asked the question, "What one crime, mystery, or thriller novel do you think has been most unjustly overlooked, criminally forgotten, or underappreciated over the years?"The 115 books selected, with really interesting commentary, make a great reading list (for anyone who has the time to sit down and read a hundred thrillers). I strongly second the nominations of Mitchell Smith's "Stone City," Bradley Denton's "Blackburn," Ross Macdonald's "The Chill" and John Connolly's "Every Dead Thing."

Had anyone asked me, I might have chosen Thomas Perry's second book, "Metzger's Dog." It's a semi-comedic caper, quite different in tone from the more hard-edged stuff he does now. There's nothing else quite like it. Dr. Henry Metzger is the cat, by the way.

Even more obscure is Perry's "Big Fish," which is long out of print, for some reason. After years of searching I finally found a copy at San Francisco's Main Library. It's not his best book, but it's worth reading if you're a fan.

In general, I think Perry's work is less popular than it should be. Aside from the Jane Whitefield series, Perry doesn't recycle characters, and he doesn't deliver the standard thriller plots that some readers find comforting. There's always something off-balance about his books, which is a major reason why I like them so much.

I'm looking forward to his latest, "Silence," due next month.

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