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The Burglar


The Burglar

If it’s January, it must be time for a Thomas Perry novel. Perry has been a blessing to the literary world for well over three decades, offering sturdy, workmanlike and entertaining prose to support an energetic and engrossing story that hooks readers from the opening sentence and doesn’t let go even after the last page is long past read. Perry’s offering for 2019, THE BURGLAR, never disappoints for a moment, inserting an unforgettable protagonist with an unusual and illegal occupation into a deadly situation.

Elle Stowell is the burglar of the piece, a 26-year-old with an ability for targeting ideal houses that seems almost prescient but, as revealed under Perry’s deft hand, is the result of the intersection of education and preparation. She takes pains to blend into the landscape of the neighborhoods of the rich and richer in suburban Los Angeles, where she is just one of many young and attractive faces who is on the street one minute and down the street the next, hiding in plain sight as a dedicated jogger. However, unlike almost all of the other women who are out and about, Elle is casing houses, looking for signs of occupancy (or lack thereof) and opportunity. She is careful and selective in what she takes, being the epitomy of the professional.

"Perry’s offering for 2019, THE BURGLAR, never disappoints for a moment, inserting an unforgettable protagonist with an unusual and illegal occupation into a deadly situation."

Still, all of Elle's planning, skills, patience and parsimonic thievery do not prepare her for what she encounters in a particular house that appears to be vacant and ripe for her very itemized pickings. She stumbles into a horrific tableau consisting of three people --- two women and one man --- whose ménage à trois was interrupted by their executions. It’s the type of thing to give a dedicated burglar nightmares. That is especially so for Elle, who soon finds herself pursued by some experienced and extremely persistent hunters who are bent on wiping her out with the same efficiency that ended the lives of the three partiers.

Elle has no idea why someone would target her, given that she came upon the murder scene well after the fact, and of course she cannot go to the police. She has no choice but to change occupations, however briefly and intermittently, and assume the role of investigator, delving into the lives of the victims in order to determine why they were murdered and possibly following the thread back to the “who” behind it. It’s a dangerous gambit that quickly draws her loved ones into it in the worst of ways. The result is a cat-and-mouse game that keeps readers riveted from first page to last.

Perry, as is his practice, by turns educates and entertains his audience. The latter with respect to THE BURGLAR is a given. The former is two-pronged. The first prong deals with the ins-and-outs of home burglary. Perry tells one how to do it, from beginning to end, but in such a way as to demonstrate why there are safer ways to make a living. The second and sharper prong shows the house or apartment dweller how truly vulnerable they are. All of the doorbell cameras and security systems in the world can’t keep someone from getting into your residence and stealing part or all of your kit-and-kaboodle if they really want to do so. You can slow them down, but you can’t stop them, at least if you aren’t home.

At a bare minimum, you may want to delay posting your vacation pictures on Facebook until after you are back. If you do go away, though, pack THE BURGLAR for your trip. You’ll be entertained even as you worry.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 11, 2019

The Burglar
by Thomas Perry

  • Publication Date: January 8, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802129005
  • ISBN-13: 9780802129000