Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thomas Perry

1 - What's your latest?

Thomas Perry: My latest is a stand-alone suspense novel called "Strip," which will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 13, 2010.

2 - Assuming I haven't read it, why should I?

Thomas Perry: I would say that you should read "Strip" because you've never read anything like it before. It's an original story about the final week in power of a minor criminal boss in contemporary Los Angeles. It includes the unique stories of a number of other characters which overlap with his story. Parts of it are funny, others exciting, and others moving. It's very fast-paced, and the complex stories mesh with extraordinary efficiency. It's beginning to build some buzz among booksellers, who have already received their advance copies, and so far it's received starred reviews in Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal. No bad reactions yet that I know of.

3 - What can you tell us about your main character that you hadn't realized until you answered the question?

Thomas Perry: One thing that's unusual that I hadn't thought about much is the fact that while Claudiu "Manco" Kapak, the old gangster and club owner, is at the center of the story, there are about nine characters who are described, followed, and studied as though they were the "main" character. For the time when each is on stage, we see him as he sees himself--the center of the universe.

4 - What's your favorite scene and why?

Thomas Perry: I have a lot of favorite scenes in this book, but I'll pick one. Early in the book "Manco" Kapak is confronted by Joe Carver, the man he's been hunting because he suspects Carver is the masked man who robbed him while he was making a night deposit at his bank. Carver has come to Kapak's house to tell him he's innocent. But he has broken in while Kapak is in the shower. They have their conversation, and Carver goes out a window and leaves through the back yard. Kapak, still naked, but seeing his chance to settle things, runs to his bedroom for his pistol, and fires at Carver's back as Carver disappears among some bamboo plants. Kapak was in a hurry, so he's fired through the tall bedroom window without opening it. Now, as he watches, the glass comes apart in sheets, falls to the floor, and shatters into thousands of tiny particles that pepper his naked body from his forehead to his toes. He spends the next chapter in the police station talking to a police lieutenant while trying to hide the fact that he is in desperate discomfort from the ground glass on the most sensitive surfaces of his body. The combination of his extraordinary self-control and the ridiculous nature of his self-inflicted injury make me laugh. It also signals to the reader that this is going to be a hard week for Kapak.

5 - What's next?

Thomas Perry: What's next is the third novel in the sequence that began with The Butcher's Boy and was followed ten years later by Sleeping Dogs. The new book picks up the stories of the long-retired professional killer, who lives in England as Michael Schaeffer, and the Justice Departmentemployee Elizabeth Waring, who first discovered his existence twenty years earlier.

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