Book Review: Forty Thieves

By Thomas Perry; reviewed by Jeannette Hartman

Forty-Thieves-Thomas-PerryAuthor Thomas Perry speeds readers back and forth across the San Fernando Valley as a pair of husband-and-wife detectives try to find a murderer — and a pair of husband-and-wife assassins try to stop them.

Sid and Veronica “Ronnie” Abel are retired LAPD detectives who run their own detective agency. They are hired by Intercelleron Corp. of Woodland Hills to look into the murder of an employee, James Ballantine.

The unfortunate Mr. Ballantine was pulled out of a storm drain in a flooded intersection on a rainy winter day. The two bullet holes in the back of his head make it clear this was murder. Months into the LAPD’s investigation, the lead LAPD investigator is killed in a car accident. (Given his taste for drinking too much in dive bars and the fact that his car went over the edge of a winding mountain road, it appears to be an accident. But, is it?)

Ed and Nicole Hoyt are hired guns of a much different sort. At the bequest of an unnamed employer, they have been asked to make sure the Abels don’t find out anything. They meet their handler in the bleachers overlooking a baseball diamond at South Weddington Park near Universal Studios. There, he tells them there’s been a change of plans: the Abels need to be taken out completely.

The Hoyts hide in the Abels’ front yard and try to kill them as they come home at night. When that doesn’t work, the Hoyts burn the Abels’ Van Nuys house down. The Abels rent a house in Burbank, outfit it with interior and exterior cameras and move to a hotel room. The sharp-eyed Hoyts take out most of the cameras, but the Abels still get glimpses of them and call the police before heading to the house themselves. The Hoyts detonate the pipe bomb they planted before the police get too deeply involved.

At this point, the Hoyts’ mystery employer decides the Hoyts are making too much trouble without getting results and decides to take out the Hoyts.

As the Abels keep plugging away at finding Ballantine’s killer, they inadvertently find themselves fighting on the same side as the Hoyts.

There are plenty of tongue-in-cheek scenes in this well-written and imaginative book. The Abels and the Hoyts are evenly matched in wiliness and creativity, which adds to the suspense about how this book will end. The ending is most unexpected. The late Dr. Ballantine, for all his education, had no clue who he was dealing with.

This is a stand-alone mystery, but Perry has written two series: The Butcher’s Boy novels and the Jane Whitefield novels.

Jeannette Hartman is the creator and reviewer for BookReviewsbyJeannette.

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