03 July 2010

Another novel by Thomas Perry

I did go back to the Northfield Library and look for another Thomas Perry novel after reading the last one. I checked out Pursuit, Perry's 2001 novel about the ultimate hunt.

People as prey to other people shows up in horror and science fiction as THE ultimate hunting game. Many of the movie and TV treatments can be traced back to Richard Connell's 1924 story, "The Most Dangerous Game." The hapless (even if skilled) victims are almost always the losers of bets or trapped by circumstance into the position of the stalkee. The stalker knows the lay of the land and has the advantages of hunting prowess and weapons. There's a movie trailer haunting TV land now about a bunch of humans on a strange planet being hunted by monster, mechanical aliens (I think). The premier combat/crime/first-person shooter video and computer games also fall into this genre.

I think Perry goes them all one better. No simple victim and villain in this story. The hunter in this pursuit is a former cop turned very private investigator. He'll hunt down the biggest, meanest bad guys -- for the right price. And at the end of the hunt, if the bad guys don't surrender, he turns their bodies over to the current cops. This hunter has been doing this for a long time. And he's very good at what he does.

The prey in this pursuit is a serial killer for hire. For the right price, he'll kill whomever he's pointed at and anyone he thinks might threaten his survival. He's been doing this for a few years. He's very good at what he does.

After an assassination made to look like a crazed mass murder, and after the local constabulary runs out of leads, the father of one of the victims hires the ex-cop to find the murderer. Pursuit is on.

The first thing the hunter does is publicize his hiring and the pursuit -- even before he has any idea who the prey is. That's where the mind games begin. They play a major role in the investigation and the hunt.

There's a great deal of intense action in Pursuit. It's one of the reasons it took me so long to read the book. (I also had to prepare for a teach a week-long class. That's not easy to do when it's the only class I teach during the year.) During most of the time I was reading Pursuit, I could only deal with a chapter or two at a time. I have trouble with keeping my blood pressure down when I'm relaxing. Reading more than a chapter or two of the action and mind games that Perry describes was all I and my systolic and diastolic could handle. But I was always drawn back.

The story is well told, suspenseful, violent, and bloody. There's more violence and blood than I usually tolerate, but Perry does such a good job of setting up the ultimate hunt and telling the story, that I wanted some resolution. And it wasn't ever clear whether the hunter or the hunted or neither would come out alive.

In many ways this was quite different from the other books by Perry that Bird and I read. No template or established cast of characters. Scenes, characters, and actions are just for this book. I'm likely to go looking for another book by Thomas Perry, and I look forward to discovering what it will be like.

Have you Pursuit or another Thomas Perry book? What did you think? Write and tell this little bit of the world.

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