Mysterious Book Report Forty ThievesForty Thieves by Thomas Perry

Mysterious Press, $26.00, 356 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-2452-4

Start reading any type of great fiction, and you’ll soon realize that it’s based upon conflict . . . because conflict creates drama . . . and drama is what captures, then holds, our attention and keeps us reading. Why? Because we humans are innately curious—we have to see what happens next. In order to create conflict, there must be opposing forces such as good versus evil. For example, Sherlock Holmes fought the criminal mastermind James Moriarty; the citizens of Middle Earth battled the armies of Orcs for possession of the one ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy; and poor old Wylie Coyote is forever duped into falling off of cliffs, or getting an ACME Steel Safe dropped on him by that smarmy Road Runner in their endless—and endlessly funny—chase. The point is: it takes conflict to create drama. It follows then, that in order to be a great character, the protagonist needs a great antagonist. Put another way . . . for there to be a hero, there must be a villain, and the more evil the villain, the more heroic the hero. And yes, Virginia, we’re leading up to a Mysterious Book Report . . . and guess what . . . it features a great set of adversaries!

Forty Thieves by Thomas Perry, is a modern-day thriller that’s set in Los Angeles, where a year has passed since the body of a research scientist named James Ballantine washed up in an L.A. storm drain during a heavy rainstorm. He was murdered execution style—two shots to the back of the head with a small caliber weapon—which looks like it’s a professional hit. The police have run down all possible leads without success and the case has gone cold. Because he was engaged in confidential research, his employer—a Fortune 500 company with an international presence, a forty-year history, and a spotless corporate standing—is frustrated by the lack of progress in finding the killer and concerned about its corporate image, because Ballantine was African-American and highly regarded by all of his associates.

Sid and Ronnie Abel are a husband and wife team of private investigators with a reputation for solving cold cases. They’re both former LAPD detectives hired by the corporation to look into Ballantine’s murder.

Unknown to the Abels, another group has hired Ed and Nicole Hoyt—a husband and wife team of assassins—to prevent the case from being solved. Ever. This sets in motion an exquisite set of moves and counter moves, actions and reactions as both sides do whatever it takes to get the job done with silenced .45 caliber pistols, sawed-off shotguns, Uzi’s, pipe bombs and Scorpion machine guns in a running battle that’ll leave the reader gasping, guessing and ripping through the pages to the surprise ending. Thomas Perry’s an Edgar-award winner and a perennial topper of everyone’s best-seller lists. Forty Thieves is a super introduction to his work. Enjoy!


John Dwaine McKenna