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A Small Town

Review

A Small Town

Thomas Perry is firmly ensconced on my must-read list. He is within hailing distance of completing his fourth decade of writing solid and memorable crime and suspense novels, each of which are sterling examples of how the job gets done. Somehow he finds something new to write about on an annual basis and, at the close of 2019, has presented us with A SMALL TOWN, a satisfying novel of the manifestation of evil deeds and resultant revenge.

The book opens a couple of years in the story’s past in the small town of Weldonville, Colorado. Weldonville is a quiet municipality full of friendly, down-to-earth people. Its dubious claim to fame, though, is the local penitentiary, which over time has become the stopping place for long-term and violent offenders. Everything changes on the night when a group of inmates initiates a long-planned escape, throwing open the gates of the prison behind them. The plotters go through Weldonville, spreading destruction, terror and death in their wake before vanishing into the night. The prisoners who follow behind them are either dispatched or captured by law enforcement, but the damage to the town and its citizens has been done.

"There are minor and major twists and turns throughout, some of which you may see coming and others of which you will never predict, including a satisfying ending that resolves everything."

Two years later, Leah Hawkins, the lieutenant in the town’s shrinking police force, takes an approved leave of absence for the clandestine purpose of hunting down the convicts responsible for the escape. It is here where Perry shows the true craftsmanship and genius for which he deservedly has become known over the course of his writing career. A lesser writer could have made plenty of hay simply by having Leah display good investigative work and track down the doers, one by one, across the country. Indeed, she does this at first. What occurs, though, is that the other members of the crew become aware that someone is looking for them. They decide to take steps to do something about it, which results in things going off in a couple of different and unexpected directions.

There are minor and major twists and turns throughout, some of which you may see coming and others of which you will never predict, including a satisfying ending that resolves everything.

However, A SMALL TOWN should not be mistaken for one of Perry’s best books. He stretches things just a bit more than usual. Leah is the beneficiary of good luck on a few too many occasions --- there is no one around when she breaks into a house, and the bad guys apparently go deaf at a crucial moment, to name but two --- to let readers tiptoe past without cause. That said, this is a solid tale of revenge, one in which the victims get their retaliation late and use an instrument --- Leah --- who (fortune notwithstanding) is a thoroughly believable heroine. She knows her weaknesses and thus is able to strategically capitalize on her considerable skillset.

Don’t let the late date of this book’s release in 2019 keep you from placing it at the top of your reading list in 2020.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 10, 2020

A Small Town
by Thomas Perry

  • Publication Date: December 17, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802148069
  • ISBN-13: 9780802148063