The Boyfriend

Image of The Boyfriend
Release Date: 
March 5, 2013
Mysterious Press
Reviewed by: 

“If Thomas Perry can pair Jack with a strong female who is worthy of the story he concocts next, this series just might take off.”

Catherine Hamilton’s parents hire Jack Till, a retired LAPD homicide detective to look into their daughter’s murder.

They are remarkably up front with Jack, telling him Catherine was working as an escort, and they surmise (correctly) that because of her profession, the cops aren’t going to put a lot of effort into finding her killer.

Jack takes the case and finds a trail of pretty, strawberry-blond call girls murdered all across the U.S. In their online ads, each is wearing a unique piece of jewelry that once belonged to Catherine, and each is killed in the same way.

Jack is a likeable dad with a daughter who has Down’s syndrome. When he gets a lead, he brings it to the attention of the cops wherever they are and regardless of what they are doing at the moment. Some are willing to help, but the Los Angeles detectives on Catherine’s case use every excuse imaginable to blow him off. (For sure this book will never be used as PR for the LAPD.)

But The Boyfriend is not a thriller in the purest sense. The reader knows who the killer is and waits for Jack to catch up with us.

Some of the most interesting chapters are told from the killer’s point of view regarding the training he gets in the world he inhabits. He is a true sociopath: charming; incapable of feeling shame, guilt, or remorse; and never reflecting on the lives he takes. He never considers the past or the future.

Thomas Perry has written the wonderful and successful Jane Whitfield series. Clever and resilient, Jane calls herself a “guide” and helps people who are in trouble, setting them up with new documentation. So it’s disheartening to see the women/victims in The Boyfriend written as polar opposites of Jane: addled and so lonely they willing suspend disbelief for romance.

The guy is charming, but as prostitutes, shouldn’t these women have a preternatural sense of danger? They are such easy targets. If even one woman hadn’t succumbed, it would have made a better story. Worse yet, the incident that sends the killer into his chosen line of work reads remarkably like a male fantasy.

The ending of this book is quite abrupt, as though the author had reached his page limit and had to get out—and fast. If Thomas Perry can pair Jack with a strong female who is worthy of the story he concocts next, this series just might take off.