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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"The Informant" by Thomas Perry: A nice thriller with an old school vibe.

In The Informant, a hit man is forced out of retirement after his location is discovered by Mafia figures who want to kill him in revenge for past deeds.  The hit man, known in the criminal underworld as the Butcher's Boy, needs to make sure that those seeking to exterminate him will pay a steep price:  their own lives.  This sets up the first of two story lines for The Informant.  The Butcher's Boy tears around America, from Washington D.C. to California and points in between, attempting to take care of his growing problem with his former employers, the various factions of the Mafia.

As the Butcher's Boy tangles with the mob, an agent at the United States Department of Justice attempts to convert him into being her informant.  This provides the book's second story line.  The Butcher's Boy uses this collaboration with the agent to further his own agenda.  However, the relationship turns tricky:  Will the agent continue to attempt to recruit the Butcher's Boy, or will she seek to have him arrested?  Will he need her to completely resolve his problems with the Mob?  What happens when she gets caught in the gunfire?

The main character in The Informant first appeared in a 1982 book by Perry, The Butcher's Boy.  The style and ambiance created in The Informant continues to feel a bit like a book from the 1980s:  The protagonist is a man alone against a hostile world, someone who easily jets around the globe while killing lots of people.  Robert Ludlum wrote in this style as well (The Bourne Identity, for example).  This old school vibe doesn't provide any new reading thrills, but it does provide a solid book to enjoy on a rainy autumn weekend.   If you want something more contemporary, try Beat the Reaper.  

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