I have always been a Thomas Perry fan. He writes formulaically and that is not a knock if done well. But how an author can produce novels for 18 years and scripts for years before that and suddenly step up his game like this is beyond me. This is uber Elmore Leonard but even better than the beloved Elmore. "Strip" is so good on many levels.
There is Karma. People get what they deserve and even if this doesn't happen in real life, it is tremendously satisfying. But what do the characters in "Strip" deserve, exactly? You think you know when you start out. There is the innocent man under attack, the nasty small-time gangster, the thief, his put-upon girlfriend, a bodyguard, a collection of hoods. Good guys-Bad guys, right? Not so fast. Perry lovingly unveils these characters until you become very fond of some people you assumed you would despise-- and then they disappoint you, these fleshed-out characters that you have become invested in. And then, Karma.
And the unpredictability! You just don't know what is going to happen, and that is rare in a book in the crime genre. When something does happen, it is so logical, but so startling, and, in one case, horrible, that by the end of the book you are full of delicious tension.
Back to Elmore Leonard, or Lawrence Block, or the late Donald Westlake; this is absolutely in the same league, and one of the reasons is the dialog. Hyper realistic dialog as people say what they would say if they were just a little bit smarter and sharper than they would really be. I appreciate an author who amazes me. If I were sharper myself I could go on about Perry being a master chameleon as far as writing style, but I really don't understand sometimes just why something tastes so good; I just know it's delicious.
The narration is excellent except for the mispronunciation of street and place names.
Riveting to the last paragraph. Memorable. Rereadable.
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