01 June 2011

Murders most foul

After reading about Montana at the beginning of the 20th century, I picked up a book about southern California at the beginning of the 21st century. That hundred years might have been the least of the differences between the two books.

First Bird Loomis and then Gary Sankary recommended Thomas Perry's books, and I've read a bunch of them. (Search for Perry in the search box at the top left.) No series of books centered on a few stock characters in Perry's bibliography; the books stand alone and the characters are unique (except for the "Jane Whitefield series" which I haven't come across yet).

Fidelity is one of the books I bought on my most recent Sunday afternoon expedition to a bookstore.

While Dancing at the Rascal Fair was an antique Western romance, Fidelity is a murder mystery thriller. Doig writes about people's lives over a 30 years span; Perry writes about events during a week (with some narrative flashbacks); the tensions in the story of last century Montana came from the ongoing nature of relationships while the tensions in the southern California story come from the murderous intent of a couple of the characters.

The only internal dialogues and reflections indulged in by Perry's characters are directly connected to the mysteries and the dangers. Doig's main narrator was often thinking about meaning and self as well as destiny. There is some progression in the emotions of the threatened widow of the first murder victim in Fidelity, but it seems to come without anguish. Would a woman still in shock at her husband's murder, who just found out about his long term affair, really approach her husband's mistress with an "I dont' care about that, I care about this..." attitude? Ah, well, even if it's unlikely, Perry tells a good story -- and remember, I'm a story guy.

The story begins with an ambush murder. It continues with sinister and horrific threats against the dead guy's widow, and the circle of horror expands from there. The characters and their back stories are lightly drawn, but it doesn't matter. It's an adventure story and well told.

I liked reading Fidelity. Now, I'll have to go looking for a Jane Whitefield mystery and see how Perry handles a series.

Have you read Fidelity? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you thought.

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