Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Thomas Perry


Born in Tonawanda, NY in 1947, Thomas Perry has a B.A. from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester. He has held positions as a park maintenance man, factory laborer, commercial fisherman, a university administrator, and a teacher. After unsuccessful attempts to write science fiction and adventure novels, he hit upon a winning formula in the mystery genre. The resulting novel, The Butcher's Boy, won the Edgar Allan Poe award for best debut mystery novel in 1983. He has since published fourteen other novels, including the popular Jane Whitefield series. Perry has also written and produced for prime time network television, including such shows as Simon & Simon, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and 21 Jump Street. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and two daughters.

What he writes: Thomas Perry's novels are known for their sophisticated plots and strong pacing, using occasional bits of humor to leaven the darker psychological elements of his writing. He is known for his strong sense of empathy for his characters, regardless of whether they are supposed to be "good" or "bad." Reflecting on this ambiguity in an interview, Perry stated: "a book requires us to arrange characters' actions on our own scale of values: this act is very admirable, this one is less so, and this one is evil. In crime fiction, the story is often an attempt to answer a question. We know of a bad act (a murder, in my books), think of the perpetrator, and wonder, 'What in the world could this person possibly have been thinking when he did that?'"

The five books in the Jane Whitefield series follow the title character, a tough, clever Seneca Indian woman who specializes in helping people "disappear." Living by a strict code of conduct, she helps her clients to create new identities and start their troubled lives anew. But she won't choose just anyone, as her clients must be deserving of her skills — and be in sufficient danger to require a new lease on life. While these books tend to veer toward the suspense genre, Jane's adventures do have an element of mystery to them, and are filled with Perry's trademark thrills and dark humor.


List of works
Jane Whitefield Series
  Vanishing Act (1995)  
  Dance for the Dead (1996)  
  Shadow Woman (1997)  
  The Face-Changers (1998) -- Large Type  
  Blood Money (1999)  
Other novels
  The Butcher's Boy (1982) Death Benefits (2001)
  Metzger's Dog (1983) Pursuit (2001)
  Big Fish (1985) Dead Aim (2002) -- Large Type
  Island (1987) Nightlife (2006)
  Sleeping Dogs (1992) Silence (2007) -- CD


Edgar Award, 1983, for The Butcher's Boy
New York Times Notable Book for Metzger's Dog
Independent Writer's Association choice as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century for Vanishing Act

What the critics say
"[Jane Whitefield] can break a guy's heart as well as his leg." - Time Magazine
"Unrelentingly suspenseful...a compulsive page-turner populated with characters living amid the shades of gray that surround right and wrong." - Booklist (December 1, 2001)
Regarding Nightlife - "...Reinterpreting conventions and confounding readers' expectations with fascinating characters, this is Perry at his best." - Publishers Weekly (March 14, 2006)
Regarding Silence - "An elaborate web of cat-and-mouse machinations ... expertly wrought." - Janet Maslin, New York Times


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