The first Thomas Perry book I read was Pursuit
, a sort of hunter-vs-hunter story pitting one hitman against another - it was not the only time I've found myself wondering about the dark heart of the novelist himself. The book that made his name, The Butcher's Boy
, is the story of a killer whose employers decide he has become a liability and put out a contract on him; Perry's Jane Whitefield series, about a woman who acts as a sort of freelance witness protection program, explores shadowy avenues that I'm sure must exist in some fashion, but it sort of creeps me out, thinking about how Perry *knows* such things. Silence
isn't one of Perry's most compelling stories: LA restaurateur Wendy Harper is beaten nearly to death, apparently because of something she may know about some very bad people, and seeks the assistance of private investigator Jack Till, who helps her leave behind her old life and assume a new identity that she keeps secret even from Till himself. Six years later, the man who tried to have her killed is motivated to attempt to flush her out by framing her former business partner and one-time lover, Eric, for her supposed murder. Jack has no choice but to try to figure out where Wendy went and who she "became", find her, and bring her back to prove to the prosecutor that Eric is innocent of murdering her - unfortunately playing right into the hands of the killers hired to finish her off, tango-dancing husband-and-wife team Paul & Sylvie Turner.
For me, the most interesting characters are Paul and Sylvie. Sylvie drifted from ballet training, to adult films, to stripping, eventually ending up married to her manager. She discovered ballroom dancing and Paul simultaneously, and it didn't take her long after she fell in love with him to figure out that Paul's "consultant" work was actually as a professional killer, and that he had killed her husband in order to be with her himself. Paul taught her his craft, and they have operated as a team ever since. As she passes the age of 40, however, Sylvie is beginning to have nagging doubts about her own attractiveness and starts to suspect that Paul could be unfaithful to her - not the most auspicious circumstances for two killers to continue to work together.
Meanwhile, Jack and Wendy are discovering that the mutual spark they felt six years before wasn't just the result of being thrown into in a dangerous situation together, Wendy is beginning to share what little she does know about the person who wants her dead, and Paul & Sylvie are considering whether the continued goodwill of the middleman who hired them on behalf of his client is worth what it's costing them - both financially and in possible exposure - to go after Wendy, who is proving to be unexpectedly difficult to kill.
SPOILER: Jack spends a fair amount of time throughout the book worrying about his daughter Holly, who was born with Down's Syndrome: he has taught her to be very security-conscious, and goes to quite a bit of trouble to keep from exposing her to his work or endangering her by letting the "bad guys" know who and where she is, and possibly using her as leverage. Yet at the end of the book, he is preparing to introduce Wendy to her, after Wendy has exhibited an amazing level of emotional coldness. At the outset of her troubles, Wendy looked at her life and assessed the impact of her disappearing and leaving her life behind - given the deadly circumstances, that was understandable. But the calculating way she met, married, and prepared eventually to abandon her new husband and his children ----- if Jack wants to protect Holly, why would he bring a person into her life who he already knows is capable of dispassionately disappearing again?? (My assertion is that every time you do something like that you make it easier to do it the next time.)