Thomas Perry won the 1983 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel with his debut of The Butcher's Boy. In this long-anticipated third installment, the mafia hitman emerges from retirement to tie up the loose ends of a score he thought was settled 10 years before. Also returning is Elizabeth Waring, who's been moving up the ladder in the Department of Justice by stepping on the toes of organized crime.
Fans of the audiobook series can breathe a sigh of relief, as Michael Kramer continues his fine work narrating the ruthlessly efficient assassin's bloody march toward freedom. Raspy and gruff without any cheesy wise guy embellishment, Kramer's smooth rumble makes for a slick Butcher's Boy who is clearly a head and shoulders above the slimy Cosa Nostra soldiers sent to dispatch him. He goes to Waring to update his intel on the whereabouts of the under-boss who sent the henchmen, giving her some 20-year-old dirt on the older generation in exchange. As the Butcher's Boy steadily murders first the clowns sent to catch him, then the bosses that sent the clowns, Waring races against the rising body count to either turn the Butcher's Boy into a Justice Department informant or just turn him in.
Kramer has a finely tuned ear for Perry's pacing, and falls lock-step into the rhythms of this righteous killing spree. Sure, the Butcher's Boy has murdered untold numbers of people on behalf of the mob, but all he wants now is freedom from the mob. Michael Kramer finds space to make him respectable and even likable. Thomas Perry has updated the character for middle age without making him any less clever or more insecure. The author and the character both have their priorities in the right place, forgoing glamorous punch lines for the perfect kill shot and showing a willingness to sacrifice everything for the goal at hand, perhaps even Elizabeth Waring. Megan Volpert
Married and living in England under the name Michael Schaeffer, the assassin known as the Butcher's Boy is the target of a Mafia hit team sent to exact revenge for his deadly campaign against the Balacontano family years earlier. Schaeffer kills all three attackers, but he knows more will come and needs to find whoever sent them to end it once and for all.
Soon Elizabeth Waring, now high up in the Organized Crime Division of the Justice Department, receives a surprise late-night visit from the Butcher's Boy. Knowing she keeps track of the Mafia, he asks her who the three men work for. Not knowing they have been murdered, she gives him a name: Frank Tosca, an aspirant to the Balacontano throne. In exchange, he tells her about a murder Tosca committed over 20 years ago.
So begins a new assault on organized crime, and the uneasy alliance between the Butcher's Boy and Waring, who trade current information for old secrets. As the Butcher's Boy works his way ever closer to his quarry in an effort to protect his new way of life, Waring finds herself in a race against time, either to convince him to become a protected informant or to take him out of commission for good.
©2011 Thomas Perry (P)2011 Tantor
"Perry offers a compelling, rapid-fire plot, credible Mafia and FBI secondary characters, an indictment of self-serving officialdom, and the old soul-shattering moral dilemma: what is truth?" (Publishers Weekly)
I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
This is the most recent in the Butcher's Boy series that Thomas Perry began twenty years ago. He just keeps getting better and better, something I would have thought implausible in 1982. The butcher's boy and Elizabeth Waring are intertwined again, this time with the entire Mafia and the Justice Department. The butcher's boy has angered the Mob, to the point where they all meet in Phoenix to agree to kill him. It is one man against the entire Mob. This may sound like something that Mr. Perry might not be able to pull off, but rest easy. He has become a true master of his craft, and Michael Kramer is once again a master of his. How Mr. Perry gets us to side with a professional hit man is just a remarkable feat, and yet we never question it. I can hardly believe it myself. Again the chapters alternate between the butcher's boy and Elizabeth, and again that is a perfect device to keep us guessing, and to cement the very odd relationship between us and them. The suspense heightens as the story goes along, and it never flags. Once again the butcher's boy accomplishes what sound like superhuman feats, and yet we know that he is not a cartoon character. He is human, flesh and blood. He simply is a master of what he does, just as Mr. Perry is. Each time he does this, I just can't imagine how he will top himself, and each time he does it. Analogies fail me, but Michael Jordan and Joe Montana come to mind. At the end of their games, every single person watching knew what was going to happen, and yet no one could stop it. This may be reaching, but see for yourself. Mr. Perry is truly one of a kind.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
There are several "recaps" of things that happened in earlier books, and perhaps more about the Butcher Boy's childhood than expected - both are well handled and don't feel repetitive. And it means you can enjoy this book without having read either of the other two. though, why you wouldn't want to read the other two is beyond me.
Waring is a more fully fleshed character in this book - more distinctive and developed enough that you become just as concerned about what will happen to her as you are about what will happen to the Butcher's Boy. This was a very pleasant surprise because she seemed to be right on the edge of being a "real" character in the earlier books, and it was nice to see her have a place in this story other than as someone to hinder the Butcher's Boy.
This is the best of the 3 in the series - the characters are all so engaging that it's hard to believe you're not really supposed to be rooting for the Butcher's Boy. If you like this book, you'll probably enjoy Lawrence Block's Keller series. And, maybe, even Lee Child's Jack Reacher books. The "justice" being delivered is similar in them all.
The narration is very good. The story pacing is good - and the end is satisfying. I didn't find it especially gory, considering the subject matter.
I don't usually go for the serial killer books so rampant in the best seller lists lately, but I have to admit that, as in the "Dexter" series, I recognize the gleeful feeling when an anti-hero kills folks that need killing. Revenge is a superb plot-driver, and this book zooms along relentlessly, impossible to put down. I agree with the audible editor's opinion of Michael Kramer's delivery -- spot on, unsentimental, and with good inflection changes for various characters. I also agree that it would be best to read these 3 books in order.
I just finished it, and was amazed at the elegance with which Perry wrapped up the story. I never saw the ending coming -- one of the all-time best last-minute swerves that left me misty-eyed and jaw-dropped.
Yes, absolutely .Love Michael Kramer's performance. He even does the women's voices well
Thrillers are not my normal go-to reads, but I listened to Fidelity first and that got me interested in both Thomas Perry's work and Michael Kramer's narration
Have only heard him reading Thomas Perry novels. This compares equally well as the rest
no- 2 sittings but very late at night
I am so pleased to have found a "new" author (for me) and have been recommending him to everyone I know that is interested in a well rounded book. The Butcher's Boy is The Perfect Novel
Quite entertaining with good narration. Fast paced and to-the-point. I gave it 4 stars because, frankly, this isn't literature. The writing played fairly fast and loose with the logistics of his endeavors, but still enough was there for me to think "ah hah" or "oh, yeah". Good character development which makes this story very engaging.
The book starts out well enough, if a bit too similar to the last one. Perhaps to avoid the reality that this book is not that dissimilar to "Sleeping Dogs", Perry creates a fantastic plot line, which stretched credibility with each passing event. Towards the end, it was difficult to see how the story could reach a credible conclusion. It didn't.
A lukewarm, so-so book, “The Informant – a Butcher's Boy Novel” is a killing novel, not a murder mystery. Somehow it kept me going on but in the end my first impression was correct. I thought it was slow and totally unbelievable.
The Butcher’s Boy (Schaeffer), a retired hit man, is killing mafia bosses after they put a contract out on him. He has no trouble finding them and shots always miss him. Elizabeth Waring of the Justice Department has a very unlikely alliance with him. She uses him as an informant and supplies him with information. In so doing, she's in constant conflict with her boss, Dale Hunsecker, who is depicted as an appointee and a buffoon with no experience for the job. The entire scenario is not believable.
I did find myself rooting for Schaeffer just because he was killing off Mafioso members because they were trying to kill him. This is despite the fact that he is a stone cold killer.
The ending resolves a complicated situation but is a letdown. Things could have been tied up more satisfactorily concerning Elizabeth’s incompetent boss, where Schaeffer is heading, and the conclusion in general. In short, this was a disappointing book and I will not be reading another Thomas Perry book in the near future.
English Lit BA highest honors UC Berkeley, 1974. Listening to books for pleasure or education is fun and it separates good writing from bad.
Thomas Perry sir, when are you going to regale us with tales of the level of the Butcher's Boy series or 'Metzger's Dog'? This was a reread (listen) for me, and O, how your craft doth flow! The frisson of surprise that you, the reader are pulling for a professional killer!
And of course, Michael Kramer's cool narration gives the low down on how the rotten crooks keep it on the down low.
Solid story. A couple of telegraphed outcomes of some sticky situations, but enjoyed the book to the end. I put 50k miles on my car each year and look for stories that keep me intrigued and awake. This kept me intrigued.
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