Tuesday, July 13, 2010


7/4/10 If you're ready for fast-paced action, quirky characters and unpredictable plot twists, here's a quick look at one of the year's most entertaining crime novels.

Strip by award-winning author Thomas Perry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26) is an adrenaline-charged tale set in Los Angeles that deftly injects dark humor into a wide variety of dangerous conflicts.

It introduces Joe Carver, new to the Los Angeles club scene, who is wrongly accused of holding up strip joint owner Claudio "Manco" Kapak while he's making a bank deposit.

Manco is enraged, not so much at losing thousands of dollars, but that his image has been tarnished. He vows revenge and directs his thugs to track down the masked man responsible.

His hoods figure Carver did it, but they're wrong. When they attempt to kill him, Carver takes command and survives, even though he's facing virtually impossible odds.

Manco is frustrated, especially when Carver invades his plush mansion and proves his innocence. Manco, still angry, wants to save face - when Carver leaves, he takes a shot at him, with unexpected results.

Meanwhile, Jefferson Davis Falkner, the real hold-up man, is still on the loose, spending money foolishly on his girlfriend, who works at one of Manco's clubs. But Falkner isn't happy and hooks up with Milesande Carr, a twisted woman he meets at a diner.

Carr is out for thrills and Falkner is glad to oblige, ironically setting up another robbery of Manco's deposit. This time, it doesn't quite go as planned.

The frustrated, aging club owner has more problems - part of the stolen deposit was from a major drug dealer, who's been laundering funds through him for years.

Lt. Nick Slosser, who's investigating the robberies, faces challenges as well. He's a bigamist and is trying to come up with cash for the college education of the eldest kid in each family.

Various other thugs and lovers add complications. Perry masterfully increases the tension as the body count rises.

Strip is a great blood-spattered page-turner that's full of intriguing characters and devious double-crosses. Perry has written 17 other novels, including his highly acclaimed Jane Whitefield series. This would be ideal for film adaptation or a multi-part TV series.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on July 4, 2010

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