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The Informant: An Otto Penzler Book (Butcher's Boy) Hardcover – May 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

In Thomas Perry’s Edgar-winning debut The Butcher’s Boy, a professional killer betrayed by the Mafia leaves countless mobsters dead and then disappears. Justice Department official Elizabeth Waring is the only one who believes he ever existed. Many years later, the Butcher’s Boy finds his peaceful life threatened when a Mafia hit team finally catches up with him. He knows they won’t stop coming and decides to take the fight to their door. 

Soon Waring, now high up in the Organized Crime Division of the Justice Department, receives a surprise latenight visit from the Butcher’s Boy. Knowing she keeps track of the Mafia, he asks her whom his attackers worked for, offering information that will help her crack an unsolved murder in return. So begins a new assault on organized crime and an uneasy alliance between opposite sides of the law. As the Butcher’s Boy works his way ever closer to his quarry in an effort to protect his new way of life, Waring is in a race against time, either to convince him to become a protected informant—or to take him out of commission for good.

Recommended Summer Reading from the Author of The Informant

Thomas Perry's Summer Reading List:

1) Lawrence Block, A Drop of the Hard Stuff. In this novel, Block brings back Matt Scudder, one of his great characters. Scudder has been sober for quite a few years, and now he is presented with a murder mystery within his circle of New York Alcoholics Anonymous members. The dialogue in this book is so concise and perfect in tone that the reader will wish he could follow Scudder around and overhear more of it. Block is one of the most respected mystery writers in America, and this new book, which was published in May, is a lesson in how to write.

2) Joe Gores, Spade and Archer. This is the final book of a fine writer who won three Edgar Awards and wrote numerous excellent books. He was also an expert on Dashiell Hammett, and in this is a prequel to The Maltese Falcon he writes in Hammett's style.

3) Josh Bazell, Beat the Reaper. Published in 2009, this first novel was written by a brilliant young man whose day job is being a doctor. It's original, witty, and maybe just a little bit crazy at times--the perfect book for summer. I believe we'll be reading Bazell's books for a long time, so it's time to begin.

4) Deon Meyer, Thirteen Hours. Meyer, who is South African, is gradually being noticed by other writers as a major talent. Thirteen Hours is one of the most suspenseful books I've ever read, and is a good introduction to his work.

5) John Sandford, Storm Prey. I chose this book, which came out in 2010, because it's recent, because it includes both Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, and because I haven't yet read the book that came out in May, Buried Prey. But you can choose from any of his 40 others, and it will be well worth your time.



"A book-length war of nerves that accentuates the best of Mr. Perry’s gift for using pure logic and gamesmanship to generate breathless nonstop suspense..."The Informant" is a marvel of tight, thoughtful construction."--Janet Maslin, New York Times

Maybe you’ve heard of him. Named after the foster father (Eddie the Butcher) who taught him his trade, and introduced almost 30 years ago by Thomas Perry in "The Butcher’s Boy," this cold-blooded professional killer is one of the immortals of the genre. Michael Schaeffer, to give his antihero his current alias, seemed a bit mechanical when he briefly came out of retirement two decades ago in "Sleeping Dogs," but he makes a great comeback in THE INFORMANT (Otto Penzler/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27) – older wiser and deadlier. Perry has to exert himself to engineer a reunion between Schaeffer, who has surfaced from anonymity to defend himself from the mafia good squads that have taken a sudden interest in him, and Elizabeth Waring, a hyper-vigilant honcho with the Department of Justice whose fondest desire is to turn Schaeffer into a government informant. But once these uneasy civilities are attended to, the Butcher’s Boy is free to kill again, in his own distinctly cruel and inventive way. The fun thing about his professional methods is how low-tech they are. That’s poetic justice for a target like Frank Tosca, an old-school underboss who has called an extraordinary meeting in Arizona to convince the fractious leaders of the big crime families that he can revitalize the mafia and lead it into a new golden age. While everyone is on high alert for marauders brandishing advanced weapons of war, the Butcher’s Boy quietly sneaks into Tosca’s cabin and slits his throat with a hunting knife he picked up at a sporting-goods store. Perry’s immaculate style – clean, polished, uncluttered by messy emotions – suits the Butcher’s Boy, who executes his kills with the same cool, dispassionate skill. But this time there’s something almost human about his awareness of the limitations imposed by his aging body. Luckily, one of the lessons he learned from Eddie is that "killing was mostly a mental business. It required thinking clearly, not quickly." And his mind is still sharp enough to devise the kind of ingenious logistical traps a young computer gamer could only dream of.--Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review.

"Edgar-winner Perry's excellent third Butcher's Boy novel (after Sleeping Dogs) pits the Butcher's Boy (aka Michael Schaeffer), an impeccably effective hit man, against his old nemesis, Elizabeth Waring, an impeccably honest Justice Department official. Though Waring's boss, arrogant political appointee Dale Hunsecker, tries to hamstring her, Waring wants to bolster her 20-year pursuit of Mafia bosses by turning the Butcher's Boy into America's most important informant. Waring soon enters into an intricate pas de deux with a man who considers death a buy-sell commodity. Meanwhile, this icy yet strangely appealing killer, who reads Waring as well as she reads him, methodically murders capo after capo and their "made men" across the country, the only way he can safely return to his quiet retirement in England with his beloved wife, Meg. Perry offers a compelling, rapid-fire plot, credible Mafia and FBI secondary characters, an indictment of self-serving officialdom, and the old soul-shattering moral dilemma: what is truth? (May)" --Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"Twenty years after a trio of lowlifes forced him out of retirement (Sleeping Dogs, 1992, etc.), the Butcher’s Boy is back.

When you’re a professional killer who works freelance, your employers are likely to include a large number of nasty guys. So it’s not clear to Perry’s nameless hero, who started calling himself Michael Schaeffer when he moved to England and settled in Bath as the husband of Lady Margaret Holroyd, which of his former associates sent the three men who inadvertently flushed him out of hiding and then tried to kill him. He has no trouble tracing the three to midlevel New York capo Michael Delamina, whom he kills on page two. In order to identify Delamina’s boss, however, he has to consult his old nemesis, Elizabeth Waring of the Justice Department. Taking a leaf from Hannibal Lecter’s playbook, he urges her, "Tell me, and I’ll tell you something." When Elizabeth fingers rising under-boss Frank Tosca as Schaeffer’s next target, he gives her some juicy information on an old Tosca murder in return. But although "he had never failed to accomplish his goal when all it entailed was killing someone," her news comes too late to help. By the time Schaeffer kills Tosca, the ambitious under-boss has convened a sit-down in which his counterparts from across the country have agreed to join his vendetta against the Butcher’s Boy—a goal Tosca’s death only makes them more eager to pursue. For her part, Elizabeth is so determined to bring Schaeffer into the Witness Protection Program as the ultimate informant that she’s willing offer him a series of unauthorized deals, which of course he spurns. Schaeffer is squeezed between two collective adversaries with virtually unlimited personnel and resources. On the other hand, only Schaeffer is the Butcher’s Boy. Beneath the sky-high body count, the twisty plot is powered by Perry’s relentless focus on the question of where the next threat is coming from and how to survive it." --Kirkus, STARRED review

"I've said elsewhere that Thomas Perry's novels -- the best ones -- are a master class in thriller writing. "The Informant" should be the newest addition to that syllabus, read for devouring first, and analysis thereafter."--Sarah Weinman, Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • Series: Butcher's Boy
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (May 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547569335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547569338
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,967 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:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As I was beginning Thomas Perry's The Informant, it occurred to me that among crimes, murder may not be the worst (at least in the fictional world). After all, you can have a such as Perry's Butcher's Boy who is at least somewhat likeable; on the other hand, there aren't too many rapists who come off as endearing. Of course, it helps that the Butcher's Boy - who operates in this book under the name Schaeffer - is really only killing other criminals, particularly some rather unpleasant mobsters.

The novel is a follow-up to Perry's debut novel, The Butcher's Boy (which I have not read; this is actually my first Perry book). Two decades after that book, Schaeffer is living a quiet life in England. He's happily married to a woman who understands (to some extent) his past and he's retired from the hit man game. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of mobsters who want him dead, so when he is attacked near his home, he is forced to go back to the U.S. and eliminate the mob boss who ordered his death.

This boss, Frank Tosca, is making a play to head the whole Mafia, and killing Schaeffer would go a long way to reaching this goal. As part of his plan, he creates an alliance with other bosses to put a bounty out on Schaeffer. Soon it becomes apparent that stopping Tosca will not be enough; the Butcher's Boy will need to terrorize the whole Mafia and stay alive long enough to make his enemies decide he isn't worth the effort of hunting. Part of Schaeffer's plans involves Elizabeth Waring, an Organized Crime official in the Justice Department who has been Schaeffer's adversary in the past. Both Schaeffer and Waring will try using each other for their own ends; Schaeffer to get back to his quiet life and Waring to shut down the Mafia.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Merlin63 on June 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Informant is the third in the series which began with the 1983 Edgar Award winning novel The Butcher's Boy ,which is one of the finest debut mystery novels I've ever read. In it, we first meet the tittle character and are treated to a delicious combination of inventiveness and sheer ruthlessness in the art of killing for hire.

This third novel in the series has none of the former, but plenty of the latter, and takes into account the passage of time. He's grown older, slower, gets tired more quickly than in his youth. But he's kept himself in shape, and his sharpness and awareness has not dimmed with time.

What I love about the Butcher's Boy series is the prose is spare and lean and suits the character perfectly. Somewhat reminiscent of the The Continental Op series by Dashiell Hammett, the titular character is a bit of a cypher and requires the reader to fill in the character details, thus making your experience and perception of him unique. For as much as I'd love to see these books turned into movies, you could never cast them with a big name movie star. The star's box office draw would derail one of the central themes of these stories, which is that the Butcher's Boy could be anybody and blends into the crown as quickly and mysteriously as he emerged from it.

What your left with then, is a man who's all about the job. A job he is exceedingly good at. Is he a good person? A bad person? An emotionally dissociative immoral killer who's only good at his job and nothing else? That question is sort of answered, but un-satisfyingly in my opinion.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
One of Thomas Perry's most iconic characters is "The Butcher's Boy," a professional hit man with an impressive resume. In his prime, he was the go-to guy for gangsters who wanted to get rid of their enemies. The Butcher's Boy (who now goes by the name Michael Schaeffer) is mentally tough, remorseless, practical, and a perfectionist who stays alive by taking nothing for granted. He is a master of weaponry and surveillance, is good at blending into the background, can bypass most alarm systems, and has a sixth sense that alerts him to subtle clues in his environment. Although he can improvise when necessary, he prefers to plan ahead. He does not toy with his victims; he strangles, shoots, or stabs them, and then quickly vanishes.

In "The Informant," Michael is in his fifties, and has lived in England for years with Meg, his beautiful and aristocratic wife. He prefers a quiet existence to his adrenaline-fueled and violent younger days. Unfortunately, ten years earlier, he was spotted by a thug who recognized him, and more recently, three men tried to kill Michael and his wife in their home. Michael returns to the States to see if he can rout his adversaries once and for all. He embarks on a one-man killing spree, and Elizabeth Waring, who works for the Justice Department, sees an opportunity to take down various crime figures whom she has been after for years. Without her boss's permission, she tries to get Michael to turn informant in return for federal protection.

Perry keeps his story moving briskly with well-choreographed action and chase scenes, exciting confrontations, and a large body count. It is entertaining to watch Michael meticulously prepare for each step of his journey.
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