The Informant - Thomas Perry Advanced reader copy.

The Butcher’s Boy, retired assassin, wants nothing more than to be left alone. Having found a woman he loves, in a country removed from his former territory, he has no other aspirations than to leave things be. I understand that. He’s getting older, slower, and has everything he needs; until an up-and-coming Mafia chief thinks that by killing the Butcher’s Boy he can claim more power.

The adopted son of a hitman/butcher, the acolyte, now calling himself Schaeffer, embarks on a campaign to eliminate the mafia boss who has put out a major contract on him. It’s virtually the entire crime world against him for having set up and destroyed Belacontana, a major crime figure, mostly as a way to protect himself. Now everyone seeks to ingratiate himself with Frank Tosca, the new Belacontana wanna-be. Schaeffer needs to make searching for him too expensive. (Parker does something similar in The Outfit by Richard Stark, if less violently.)

I have read several of the Butcher’s Boy series. This, while the latest, could stand alone, although I recommend reading them in order for a better historical sense of the characters, particularly that of Elizabeth Waring, the Justice Department investigator who is beginning to have the best sense of just who the Butcher’s Boy is. Some of the scenes might strain credibility, e.g., his running up the hill (he’s fifty) to get away from the lodge. Then again, there’s something to be said for staying in shape. (Personally, my idea of staying in shape is conforming to the contours of my reading chair.) Waring wants to get Schaeffer in a corner where his only protection will be to turn informant against those who formerly hired him.

I’ve also read several of Perry’s Jane Whitefield series and the similarities are obvious: the lone, competent, anti-hero competing successfully against large odds. It’s an appealing scenario, especially with Perry’s love of the outdoors and use of natural resources in the denouement.

I must admit to having become quite a fan of Thomas Perry and am reading my way through all his titles. Not Crime and Punishment, but very enjoyable. The order of the Butcher series is Butcher’s Boy, Sleeping Dogs, and The Informant. Read them all.