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Nightlife: A Novel Hardcover – March 7, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Serial killer Charlene Buckner—aka Tanya Starling, Rachel Sturbridge, Nancy Mills, and several other monikers—changes her identity each time she commits a murder. By the end of Perry's mesmerizing novel (Pursuit; The Butcher's Boy), Charlene has racked up an impressive body count and her own personal Rolodex of bogus names. Yes, as a child she had a slutty mom, and yes, she was abandoned in her late teens, but her life story is hardly the horror show of most fictional serial killers. Perry patiently shows that it doesn't necessarily take child molestation and brutality to create a murderer. "She was just a regular person who had always wanted what everybody else wanted—to be happy." Portland police detective Sgt. Catherine Hobbes investigates Charlene's first kill, Dennis Poole, and follows close behind her, always just a little too late to catch Charlene or save her latest victim, as Charlene moves on to San Francisco, L.A., Las Vegas and other locales, where she pauses just long enough to commit another murder. Hobbes has her own issues, and by the end the two women have grown close not only in proximity but in identity as well. Reinterpreting conventions and confounding readers' expectations with fascinating characters, this is Perry at his best. (Mar. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Thomas Perry, author of the Edgar Award?winning The Butcher's Boy, the five-volume Jane Whitefield series, and other best-selling novels, has taken typical elements of an ordinary crime thriller and given them an unusual, erotic twist. The New York Times compares Nightlife's psychological impact to that of The Silence of the Lambs and Mystic River: we're not dealing with a stock killer but a rather ordinary young woman turned bad. Critics agree that Perry successfully delves deep inside the female psyche with chapters narrated from both Hobbes's and the murderer's perspectives. A little haphazard storytelling, with characters flitting in and out of chapters, confused some critics, but overall, Nightlife is a smart, engaging read.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400060044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400060047
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

THOMAS PERRY is the author of 23 novels including the Jane Whitefield series (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman, The Face Changers, Blood Money, Runner, Poison Flower, and A String of Beads), Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel. He won the Edgar for The Butcher's Boy, and Metzger's Dog was a New York Times Notable Book. The Independent Mystery Bookseller's Association included Vanishing Act in its "100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century," and Nightlife was a New York Times bestseller. Metzger's Dog was voted one of NPR's 100 Killer Thrillers--Best Thrillers Ever.
Thomas Perry was born in Tonawanda, New York in 1947. He received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester in 1974. He has worked as a park maintenance man, factory laborer, commercial fisherman, university administrator and teacher, and a writer and producer of prime time network television shows. He lives in Southern California.  His website: www.thomasperryauthor.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thomas Perry has written some modern classic suspense novels such as the Edgar Award winning THE BUTCHER'S BOY. He has created some interesting and strong female protagonists. His latest effort, NIGHTLIFE, features again some very strong female protagonists- one a serial killer and the other the cop pursuing her.

Hugo Poole is a major crime figure living in LA. When a cousin of his is found murdered in his Oregon home, Poole hires retired detective Joe Pitt to find his cousin's killer. Catherine Hobbes is the Portland homicide detective assigned to the case. As Catherine looks into the killing, she discovers that the killer is a female who has established a relationship with her victim. In fact, the killer is a woman of many identities who has made a habit of dating then killing men. Catherine publicly begins to pursue the killer. Unfortunately, the killer begins to feel boxed in by Catherine and decides to murder her pursuer.

Thomas Perry knows how to weave a compelling tale. Unfortunately, in this latest work, he lacked a certain focus. The plot meandered and quite often his story would wander off on tangents that might lead a reader to wonder about the editing. For example, he describes a minor character with great care and detail over the span of several pages only to kill them off ten pages later. The ending comes so suddenly with virtually no denouement that the reader might be left scratching their head. This is not Thomas Perry's best effort. I would recommend some of his earlier works such as PURSUIT or DEAD AIM which were just republished in attractive trade paperbacks.
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Format: Hardcover
I won't summarize the entire novel, as you can see that in the publishing reviews.

A new Thomas Perry book has always been a long-anticipated treat, from "Butcher's Boy" through the Jane Whitfield series and right up to the present, usually made all the more welcome due to the sporadic timing of his works; Perry doesn't follow the usual one-per-year schedule of most popular fiction writers.

From the start, "Nightlife" is a grabber, introducing one of the best female villains ever in his central antagonist (who goes by many names throughout the story), and very effectively portraying her as a total sociopath - it's an absolutely riveting depiction.

He also introduces a couple of other fascinating characters: Hugo Poole (in what has to be one of the best character intros in contemporary fiction) and Joe Pitt. Both of these characters are fascinating: unique, compelling, memorable. Poole is a shady underworld character with a strong set of values, a take-no-prisoners attitude, and the stones to carry it all off. Pitt is a retired DA's investigator, ex-cop, lady's man, the kind of guy you want at your back in a dark alley.

Perry's third protagonist is Catherine Hobbes, a Portland PD detective trying to track down the murderous antagonist. Another well-delineated character, though not nearly as interesting as either Poole or Pitt.

The story moves along briskly at first, as the antagonist moves from city to city ( and identity to identity ) in her efforts to stay ahead of the law, killing her victims along the way.

But for me, it all goes sideways about two thirds of the way through. Earlier in the book, we'd seen Poole fall very far into the background of the story ( a terrible waste of a fascinating character ).
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Format: Hardcover
I always read a new Thomas Perry novel as soon as possible, then, over time, I re-read them. He's that good. I loved this one -- the serial killer is both fascinating and frighteningly banal. That's quite a trick. I liked the heroine, Catherine Hobbs, and I liked watching her mind work. She is intelligent and observant, logical and dedicated. Good characters, and wonderful writing. Go buy it, read it, then try his other books. I'm particularly partial to "Metzger's Dog", but really, I've enjoyed them all. Perry does not repeat himself, and he is always excellent. Read him.
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Format: Hardcover
The first 2/3 of this book were excellent, and up to the standards set by Perry's earlier thrillers. The last 1/3 of the book bogs down as it delves deeply into the mind of the villain as the narrative focuses on her more and more. This wouldn't be so bad if this examination of her psyche were mixed in with some action or dialogue, but there is no mixing. Where most thrillers would be racing to their breakneck conclusion, this one limps. For the first time ever, I found myself skimming a Thomas Perry book, and the ending couldn't come fast enough.

Read 'Butcher's Boy' or 'Metzger's Dog,' both of which are earlier Perry books. You'll be happy you chose one of those instead of this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charlene Buckner has a screw loose and she's dissembling. A former beauty pageant kid, she craved attention from her mother. But her mother was more interested in the attention such pageants brought her than how they benefited her daughter. So the mother left poor Charlene, and that's when the screw fell out.

Since then, Charlene's used her wits, her beauty and her innate smarts to survive. She's a chameleon, changing her look, her colors, her name and place whenever the need arises. And change she must, for Charlene's left bodies in her wake with nearly every transformation. But it's not blood lust that drives Charlene, it's expedience, the need to escape and to cut all ties. But now Charlene has Portland Detective Sergeant Catherine Hobbes on her trail, and she's being dogged from Oregon to California, to Arizona and on. For someone who kills for expedience, the best move is to eliminate what's threatening you. And that's Catherine Hobbes.

In NIGHTLIFE Thomas Perry has written a taut suspense thriller that crackles with pace and tension. Bravo. The only criticism? The book seems written on the fly. Early characters, early direction seem to drop out, as if the author wasn't sure where the book was going. Still, good writers write good books. NIGHTLIFE was well worth the read.
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