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Publisher's Summary

Thomas Perry's Edgar Award-winning debut novel follows a professional hitman on the run from both the mafia and the government.
©2003 Thomas Perry (P)2008 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • richard
  • San Anselmo, CA, United States
  • 02-26-12

A writer with extreme talents.

This is Mr. Perry's first book, originally published in 1982. Although it's a little dated (a full gas tank, 12 gallons, for $10!) that is the only flaw I can find. Michael Connelly, one heck of a writer himself, has written an introduction to the book, which accurately describes Perry's awesome talent and assuredness. Connelly uses the word "velocity" as a description of plots that delight us, and this is the perfect word for Perry's plot. There are only two main characters, the unnamed professional hitman, and the Justice Department agent Elizabeth Weiser, plus many other characters. Perry cleverly alternates chapters between these two characters to hold our interest, and this is a very successful suspense device. The book flies by. The hitman takes on the Las Vegas mafia families single-handedly, and you believe that he can manage it. He is no non-human superhero, though. He is believable in every way. Likewise, Elizabeth is also a real human being, in the field reluctantly for the first time, and simultaneously doubtful and self-confident. You just have to read Perry's work to see how smoothly he creates these characters. He also sees Las Vegas as what it is, or was thirty years ago. The narration is flawless. Mr. Kramer understands the writer, and has narrated all of Mr. Perry's books. He is fluid and entertaining. He builds the suspense for us. You can never guess the plot's twists and turns. You will at one moment fully suspect that someone with a gun will sneak in the door, and then Mr. Perry surprises you. Even Elizabeth is surprised and hoodwinked. This is a terrific book, and I am sure that I will eventually listen to all of Mr. Perry's books. Great entertainment!

40 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • CBDC
  • Washington, DC USA
  • 03-05-10

FUN gripping and very well-written

This book is superb in every way: the plot line keeps you hooked; it's told ironically so it's a lot of fun; and it's extraordinarily well-written with all loose ends tied up in a very unpredictable and yet entirely logical way. I recommend it highly.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Ted
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 01-20-13

Like a Tycoon's Diamond - Flawless

First Novel??? Yoa! Reminds me of David Baldacci's first novel, "First Power" in the fit for each of this story's piece into a puzzle that squirms and spurts through your imagination. Michael Kramer's read is finer than a tycoon's diamond collection. Okay... let me find a nit to pic... thinking.... thinking... thinking... Nope... not a nit to this thing that will act like a vacuum on your time tugging it away from all sorts of alternatives. I'm thrilled that this is a series and I'm off to download... "Sleeping Dogs". I'm not hoping that Perry will top "Butcher's Boy", just take me along on another ride as intriguingly plotted, charactered, and revealed.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Engrossing--tends to make you root FOR hitman

If you could sum up The Butcher's Boy in three words, what would they be?

Engrossing. Detailed. Justice???

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Butcher's Boy?

The hitman is in a strange city and ends up in an alley. I'm thinking: boy, men are safe walking wherever they want. Wrong! He's hit in the head. Stunned, he fights back and crumples his attacker but he's hit in the back with something like a bat. It's the fight of and literally for his life. I couldn't help rooting for him. But when he survives, he doesn't leave his attackers unconscious. He KILLS them. And he moves through the book ruthlessly killing when I (I guess I'm naive) didn't think it was necessary (for his own survival). The mugging in the alley is crucial to getting you on the hitman's side. I seesawed through the book, marveling at the multitude of details the hitman kept track of to ensure his own safety, shaking my head over his lethal ruthlessness, and unexpectedly and repeatedly rooting for him to survive yet another hopeless situation. I never rooted for a hitman before. I'm all for justice. The ending bothered me but was appropriate, I guess.

What three words best describe Michael Kramer’s voice?

Terse. Emotionless. Monotonous. (I did NOT like the reader of this book & it took me a long time to get past how he sounded because I didn't like his voice and how flat & terse he sounded--and I'm sure I've heard other books by this reader & didn't have this reaction to him in the others.)

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Justice may have to be manufactured.
Or: Death of a hitman?
Or: Justice - not just blind but dumb???

Any additional comments?

I loved Maureen. Spectacular character. What a smart woman!!! In contrast, I became totally disappointed in Elizabeth. Her boss Brayer said she was the only one in the department smarter than him?! If so, Justice is in trouble and would do much better hiring Maureen. When Elizabeth went to serve the subpoena, I was cautioning her. When she was driving to Carson City and stopped for gas I was screaming at the recording when she saw the Cadillac. DUH! And when Brayer didn't call her that day or even the next, I had a pretty good idea why while she was speculating he was blaming her for everything or taking the blame in Washington. SMH. School smart leaves a lot to be desired; Maureen's street smarts so much better.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Toni
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 06-29-09

Utterly unpredictable.

This book reminds me of two classics: Raymond Chandler's 1954 mystery THE LONG GOODBYE and the Texas murder defense summed up as "He needed killin'."

If anyone else has written a murder mystery as thoroughly surprising in the last 55 years, I haven't read it. The very last sentence of THE BUTCHER'S BOY is both startling and funny.

The title is the nickname of the professional hit man readers follow throughout the novel. I think the murder defense explains why we wind up caring what happens to him. Everyone he kills is loathsome. We care about the Justice Dept. investigator trying to track him down, too. Which is why the suspense lasts through that funny final sentence.

All THE BUTCHER'S BOY lacks to make it a literary classic for the ages - besides being well-written and well-plotted - is eternal themes concerning humanity's great struggles. Two out of three is an excellent deal. If you like literature, I think you'll like this book.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 01-05-12

Dated and inaccurate

I had been looking forward to listening to this book on the strength of its reputation and reviews but found it sadly disappointing. It is badly dated and strains credibility repeatedly. Even thirty years ago when the book was written the answer to the door lock of a quality hotel was not a quick trick with a credit card. Curare administered orally is harmless and therefore useless as a murder weapon. People who have never ridden a horse do not jump on the bare back of a thoroughbred in the dark and, clinging only to its mane, jump two fences and escape across a wintery landscape at a full gallop. In addition, time after time twists in the plot were entirely predictable.

Michael Kramer does a nice job with the narration and my distaste for giving up on a book before finishing carried me through to the end, but I would not recommend "The Butcher's Boy" to a friend.

43 of 50 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing, but not a waste.

I was excited and looking forward to read this book after seeing all the positive reviews and the great ratings listed, however I found it to be rather disappointing. Mr. Perry is a good writer and the book is not bad by any means as evidenced by the fact that it is an Edgar Award-winning novel. Michael Kramer is one of my favorite narrators and I felt he did a solid job telling this story. As I write this review and list the positive aspects of the book I???m still shocked by the feelings of disappointment I experienced when I heard the phrase, ???Audible hopes you have enjoyed this program.??? I thought to myself, ???What! That is the end? Where was the intensity, the traumatic scenes or even the suspense that had appeared to be building as the story progressed???? There are some good sections of the book and I thought the story was building up to fulfill the promise the title and ratings suggested, but then it ended. Despite my disappointment I still feel ???The Butcher???s Boy??? was worth the listen and as the ratings support many other readers have found the book more enjoyable then I did. I personally will not be continuing with the series at this time.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Decent Story - Good Narration - BUT

I was enjoying this book up until the last hour. I don't understand how the main Justice Dept. character can be so stupid - it just doesn't make sense. I agree with the reviewer that says the government agents look bumbling - too much so. The narration is good, and I guess I would give this a passing recommendation - barely.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Ed
  • Saint Augustine, FL, United States
  • 04-18-13

Expected more

Perhaps Michael Connelly's introduction raised the bar a little too high, but I wasn't overly impressed by this work. However, I'm glad Perry didn't abandon the character because I have liked other stories in the series better. This moved along at a slow pace and it seemed that Perry was simply setting up the character for future "adventures." Have another one in my library and, with the bar now set lower, hope to enjoy it more.

18 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Don't waste your time

I am a fan of a number of great authors: Michael Connelly, Lee Childs, John Sandford, James Lee burke etc. I thought I would try someone new. The plot is shallow, some of the things that happen are so unbelievable - even the characters in the plot comment on this. When the book ended I thought there must be someone wrong with my iPod - it just ended abruptly. The reader is monotone. Bottom line - stick with the winners

12 of 16 people found this review helpful