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Fidelity Paperback – Bargain Price, June 4, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Perry (Silence) explores the psychology of identity through his characters' hidden lives in this solid crime thriller. After L.A. PI Phil Kramer is shot dead as he's getting into his car one night on a quiet street, his wife, Emily, and his staff set out to find whodunit and why. As they dig, Emily discovers Phil had many secrets. Meanwhile, Jerry Hobart, the hired gun, is ordered to kill Emily. Suspicious of his client's motives, Jerry starts investigating his client, who, the reader learns, is Ted Forrest, a wealthy playboy with a secret life. Perry initially shifts between Emily and Jerry's points-of-view as each probes different aspects of the same crime to zero in on Ted's motives. As Ted starts dominating the narrative, the pacing, usually one of Perry's strongest suits, slows, weighed down with too many characters and subplots. Still, Perry intrigues as always with spare, intelligent prose. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Perry remains a kind of literary alchemist, able to mix often-incompatible elements, intricate plotting and subtle characterization, into crime-fiction gold. Here he begins with a gripping set-piece: the murder of private investigator Phil Kramer, who, we quickly learn, kept secrets: from his wife, Emily; from his colleagues in the PI firm he ran; and from the other women in his life. One of those secrets got him killed, and two people are desperate to find out what it was: Phil’s killer, who hopes to use the secret to extort the man who hired him (and has now rehired him to kill Emily, too), and Emily, who needs to understand her husband if she is to save her own life. Perry dexterously juggles point of view between Emily, Phil’s killer, and the man pulling the strings—three unreliable narrators who only know part of the story, forcing us to attempt our own synthesis. But beyond the three-cornered suspense generated by the intricate narrative, Perry gives us three remarkably rich characters, whose multiple shades of gray are delineated so crisply as to form the subtlest of rainbows. This is fine writing from one of crime fiction’s grand masters. --Bill Ott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Perry writes very well and is a keen observer of the species. "Fidelity" is no exception. Perry captures the very essence of what it means to be "married" to someone, and as with his other works, Perry is able to coalesce the vapors, to bring words to the vague feelings that we all have but can't quite pin down. The plot in this one is fairly pedestrian - man is murdered, spouse discovers hidden life, rich bad guy, etc. But even the bad guy's reflections on marriage and relationships are worthy of attention.
I have read all of Perry's works, and I believe that he is a unique talent producing some of the most interesting work in crime fiction. Plus he commands the English language like few others. The Jane Whitfield series, "Metzger's Dog," "The Island." Few authors have his breadth, quirkiness, and comedic touch. Fewer still manage to offer small truths so effortlessly. Clearly, some like his work; others not so much, but my sense is that he aims not for the middle so there are bound to be fans and critics. By all means though, give Perry a try.
His professional killer was closer to ordinary than those in past efforts and the character development of his heroine struck me as flat. There were potential story lines that were left incomplete. It seemed to me that this novel could have been improved with some extra work. Perhaps Perry was looking ahead to Jane Whitfield's reemergence and neglected the necessary work on Fidelity that would have taken it out of the "wait for paperback" category.
Fidelity explores a different kind of travel: into the past, and into the minds of others. The physical driving around should have been dispensed with; it distracts from the inner explorations that the characters do. Emily, the woman whose husband is murdered, must find out what her husband was doing for the past year. She must come to terms with his sexual infidelity, and the fact that he has left her penniless. Hobart, the hit man, must find out what his employer is hiding, and how he can benefit from it. He must also come to terms with his own past, and envision a future.
The characters are very interesting, yet oddly cold. Perry takes pains to describe an introspection, even under great stress, that most people don't have. Since the majority of his characters are manipulative, emotions take a backseat. Even the good guys are thinking coolly under life-and-death situations, putting aside their emotions with an ease that is unsettling.
If you haven't read anything by Thomas Perry, I urge you to begin with the Jane Whitefield novels. Fidelity is not the best of his writing, but he is definitely worth reading in general. There is going to be another Jane novel coming out this winter, and I am more than eager to see it!