Nightlife

Thomas Perry, Author
Thomas Perry, Author . Random $24.95 (373p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6004-7
Reviewed on: 09/26/2005
Release date: 03/01/2006

Serial killer Charlene Buckner—aka Tanya Starling, Rachel Sturbridge, Nancy Mills, and several other monikers—changes her identity each time she commits a murder. By the end of Perry's mesmerizing novel (Pursuit ; The Butcher's Boy ), Charlene has racked up an impressive body count and her own personal Rolodex of bogus names. Yes, as a child she had a slutty mom, and yes, she was abandoned in her late teens, but her life story is hardly the horror show of most fictional serial killers. Perry patiently shows that it doesn't necessarily take child molestation and brutality to create a murderer. "She was just a regular person who had always wanted what everybody else wanted—to be happy." Portland police detective Sgt. Catherine Hobbes investigates Charlene's first kill, Dennis Poole, and follows close behind her, always just a little too late to catch Charlene or save her latest victim, as Charlene moves on to San Francisco, L.A., Las Vegas and other locales, where she pauses just long enough to commit another murder. Hobbes has her own issues, and by the end the two women have grown close not only in proximity but in identity as well. Reinterpreting conventions and confounding readers' expectations with fascinating characters, this is Perry at his best. (Mar. 14)

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