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The Butcher's Boy (Butcher's Boy, #1)
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The Butcher's Boy (Butcher's Boy #1)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,371 ratings  ·  212 reviews
Murder has been easy for the butcher's boy until now: It's what he was raised to do. But when he kills the senior senator from Colorado and arrives in Las Vegas to pick up his fee, he learns that he has become a liability to his shadowy employers. His actions attract the attention of specialists in police agencies who watch the world of organized crime. All notice that som ...more
Hardcover, 313 pages
Published May 1st 1982 by Scribner Book Company (first published January 1st 1982)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kemper
This book written in the early ‘80s made me nostalgic for the days when it wasn’t common knowledge that the ammonium nitrate in fertilizer made for a dandy car bomb. Oh, to be that naive again!

Speaking of naive...Elizabeth Waring is an analyst for the Justice Department who sifts through reports of suspicious deaths nationwide looking for indications that they may be related to the Mafia. The car bombing of a union member in California catches her attention, and she’s sent out on her first field
...more
James Thane
The Butcher's Boy is an extremely clever and talented professional hit man. He takes a contract to eliminate the officer of a union and a United States senator because both of them are suspicious about the activities of a shady investment firm headquartered in Las Vegas. He cleverly pulls off both jobs in a way that makes one death look like an accident and the other like natural causes.

But the deaths do not escape the notice of Elizabeth Waring who is a smart young analyst in the Justice Depart
...more
Tim "The Enchanter"
An Aged 2.5 Stars

Random Ramblings

Within the past year I have read In the Woods, Rogue Island and now The Butcher's Boy. Each of these won the Edgar Award for best first novel. On the basis of the first two award winners, Tana French and Bruce DeSilva are now two of my favorite authors. Unfortunately, this former award winner does not leave me excited about the further novels.

The writing and pacing of the book felt disjointed, slow and dated. The majority of books I read have been written t
...more
Trish
This book was originally published in 1983, and was reprinted in 2003. Of course I’d seen Perry’s books and known he was big in crime noir, but until I read an enthusiastic review from a fan on Goodreads, I didn’t think his hard-boiled writing style would appeal to me. But what I especially liked about this debut novel was the description of the myriad ways big government departments involved in secret investigations and crime detection fail to communicate among themselves. Even better, his main ...more
Dan Schwent
Elizabeth Waring is a Justice Department agent assigned to investigate the killing of a union leader, the victim of a fertilizer explosion in the back of his truck. Was it an accident, or the work of a hitman... ?

Yeah, I have to admit that this wasn't what I expected. It started strong. Elizabeth was a young agent who quickly got in over her head. Our nameless hitman, The Butcher's Boy of the title, is suddenly targeted for murder by someone high up in the Las Vegas mob. The story had all the mo
...more
Mike French
My first Thomas Perry book and certainly not my last I would like to thank my GR FRIENDS for the recommendation. Very enjoyable read from beginning to end!
Mike (the Paladin)
Interesting book. I was going to go with a 3 star rating, but then I thought about it. I intent to follow the series (for at least one more book). And while I had/have reservations about the book in some ways, overall I like it.

We're dealing here with a story told from 2 points of view. One is a killer He's a hitter, a pro and he's one of the best. Sadly somehow he manages to run afoul of some very powerful people...and they want him dead very badly.

The other point of view is an annalist for the
...more
Tom V
OK, full disclosure: I read TBB waaayyy back in the day. In fact, the paperback I read had a picture of a revolver wrapped in butcher paper as a cover shot. I mean, who could resist that? I just had to get into it. And so, after an appropriate number of pages, I was sufficiently transfixed to say—"Where in the H*** has this guy been!?" I have been a big fan ever since that day back in the 80's, essentially devouring Perry books as they appear.The man writes GOOD!

Our protagonist in this first bo
...more
DoctorM
Yes. Very much yes. "Butcher's Boy" is one of my very favourite crime novels--- witty, dark, complicated, full of feints and twists and unexpected moments. Thos. Perry's unnamed main figure, the hitman know as "the Butcher's Boy", is a fascinating and sympathetic figure--- a craftsman proud of his trade and proud of his professionalism. His main female character--- the DOJ analyst unexpectedly (and unwittingly) chasing him ---is no less well-crafted and sympathetic. It will take you three-fourth ...more
Tim Niland
A hitman known only as The Butcher’s Boy is cutting a swath through the western United states, killing a labor leader and a United States senator among others. Meanwhile, in Washington, inexperienced Justice Department analyst Elizabeth Waring thinks she sees a pattern in unusual murders and flies to California to investigate. After the killer completes his high-wire murder of the Senator, he moves along to Las Vegas to relax and collect his fee, sporting cuts and bruises he suffered after getti ...more
Linda
As suspense/thrillers go, this one was top shelf. Although first published in 1982, it has held up well 30+ years later, and in my opinion it is well deserving of the Edgar Award it received. The plot revolves around an unnamed professional hit man who is, not surprisingly, connected to the Vegas underworld, and a young, inexperienced-in-the-field Justice Dept. analyst, Elizabeth Waring, who realizes that there is a serial killer on the loose. The two characters act and carry on separately throu ...more
CasualDebris
The novel tells the overlapping narratives of a hit-man known as "The Butcher's Boy" who gets caught amid tensions of the organized crime assortment, and an intelligent and hard-working Justice Department crime analyst on her first field assignment. The Butcher's Boy is a good read, both tense and interesting. The tension is generated by a smart, nameless hit-man trying to outrun the criminals determined to find and kill him. The interesting bits come from the fact that the various judicial part ...more
Steve
Dec 06, 2012 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who read for entertainment
An early 80s Edgar Award winner, this wonderful adventure pits Department of Justice prodigy Elizabeth Waring against The Butcher’s Boy, the professional assassin who remains nameless throughout the book. He’s good at his job. Two early murders, one of an influential U.S. Senator, put the Department of Justice and Elizabeth and her co-workers, sometimes in uneasy alliance with the FBI and local law enforcement, on the trail of an unknown murderer, maybe two since they aren’t sure if the homicide ...more
Sandi
In the introduction to this 1983 Edgar winner for best first novel, Michael Connelly promises the reader a great suspense ride and the book lives up to it. A lean, spare prose style with a dual narrative that follows a Justice Department employee and the title character that was read with a low key style by Michael Kramer made this an enjoyable audio.
Skip
A rising analyst in the Justice Department, Elizabeth Waring, finds an improbable link between the death by dynamite of a union representative and the deadly heart attack of a U.S. Senator from Colorado. As it turns out, both were killed by an assassin working for the Mafia, who seeks retribution when they try to kill him too. Fast paced and Perry won a prestigious award for this, his first novel.
Leon Aldrich
Perry's debut assassin novel hit all the right "reading" hunger pains. Now that I'm gorged, do I take a nap or run down to the library for the next book?
Jim
Thomas Perry's first novel, "The Butcher's Boy" is a suspenseful thriller that delivers. With some wonderfully woven characters and snappy dialog this novel is very enjoyable reading. It reads very quickly with some interesting twists before ending. Without a doubt a solid 5 star out of a possible 5 stars. With every Thomas Perry book there's never any question it will be an outstanding read ! Do yourself a flavor and dial into author Perry's books.
Jennifer
Reading this book, I realized that the lack of cell phones, PDA, and the internet created a whole other world of tension, misdirection, and intrigue for the detective genre.

Enjoyed this book, but not as much as the Jane Whitefield series.
Randy
I have long enjoyed Perrys work, the Jane Whitefield stuff was great so I was pretty stoked when I picked up this old novel at a used book store. The story is good and it all putts along pretty good until the end when Perry just races through a finale that should have spanned two more chapters. It ruined what might have been a fairly ok book. The assassin character was very well drawn and made what was good in the book. Perry, as an author got better later but Butchers Boy wasn't the kind of boo ...more
Hugh McBride
In a word: tremendous. A highly engaging, well crafted crime novel -- made all the more impressive by Perry's ability to get the reader to identify with main characters on each side of the law (Justice Dept. analyst Elizabeth Waring & the title character -- an otherwise unnamed professional hitman). Tight plotting, & excellent job of explaining enough to engage/inform the reader while leaving enough "in the shadows" to continue the sense of mystery that permeates the world in which the n ...more
Larry
This is an interesting twist on a crime novel. The premise is that the Justice Dept. has a group of people seeking to identify professional killers for hire. With this information, the reader observes a cold-blooded killer – a hit man for the mob – working in his “chosen profession” … And this guy knows his stuff!

Nevertheless, the mob turns on the hit man – and that turns out to be a bad move for the mob. The bad hit man (known to be the son of a butcher) turns out to be the “best” (worst -?) of
...more
Gail
This was a re-read, I first read this book back in about 1983 and it has been one that has stuck with me all these years. I read the 3rd in the series, "The Informant," a couple years ago and decided I needed to go back to the original. I was able to pick up a copy at a used book store and also got the second in the series, "Sleeping Dogs," which I will also re-read. "The Butcher's Boy" is often compared to "Day of the Jackal" which is an apt comparison. It is a cat and mouse story involving an ...more
Goodloe Bankes
This is one of the best written books I have read in a long time. I strongly recommend it. You never get lost in the details. It builds and builds in a logical and believable course. I would think this one could be made into a movie(if it hasn't already happened and I just missed it).
I am looking forward to reading more of Thomas Perry's books.
Richard Thompson
Michael Connelly's very effusive introduction set a high bar that was, perhaps, too high.

A compelling read nonetheless.

Some of the plot elements got a bit murky.

The character that we know only as "the butcher's boy" (a hit man who Perry managed to make into a believable hero) is perhaps a little too adept at foiling security systems... but I was willing to wink at that.

Unfortunately, our other protagonist, Elizabeth Waring (newbie Treasury Agent) can't seem to catch a break.

I was reading this on
...more
Gabe
Well, it looks this is one of the first in a series of books from this author.

It is however not quite up to the recent times if you are expecting some kind of realism, as it's a bit old, being written and published before 2000 sometimes.

But it's a nice easy read, a entertaining book, worth your time.

Without spoiling your fun, I would just say that it's about a hitman for hire working for the mob families in the Las Vegas of the late 80's early 90's and about a female agent of the Justice departm
...more
Nick
For those who enjoyed the suspense laden vibe that Jean Reno's The Professional had going for it, The Butcher's Boy is the next logical step. Intense, great characters and some truly brutal and bloody assassin-based action just screams ultra-cool. Check it out.
Hillary
Things have changed a lot since 1982 so reading a novel that involves the FBI and DOJ where there are no cell phones or any sort of technology that would have cleared up this case much faster, is sort of like reading Sherlock Holmes now. But it was a good story.
Suzie
As a 20-year Michael Connelly fan, I was surprised when I heard his voice doing the introduction to this book - how often does a mystery have an introduction? Now having read it, it makes sense. Excellent writing, wry asides and good suspense.
June Ahern
This thriller takes you through the minds of socipaths, outlaws and law enforcement, the errors and the success' (if you can call murder a success). Thomas Perry creates an insight the demented minds of hit men making them somehow appear rational in their professional choice. The workings of human nature so unlike what we so-called law abiding, racial people could barely imagine. This in mind we follow those who make a life out of squashing their opponents in ways the majority of humans wouldn't ...more
Rob Haug
This was a great first novel. It hit most of the right notes for me. My only "complaint" has nothing to do with the writing. You definitely feel the book's age. For example, in an early scene, after a bomb goes off using fertilizer, there is a discussion of whether or not manure can actually explode. Obviously Oklahoma City hadn't happened yet.
Another plus: This audio book was read by the great Michael Kraemer (of Wheel of Time fame). I found that his voice really supported the noir feel of the
...more
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Thomas Perry was born in Tonawanda, New York in 1947. He received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester in 1974. He has worked as a park maintenance man, factory laborer, commercial fisherman, university administrator and teacher, and a writer and producer of prime time network television shows. He lives in Southern California with his wife ...more
More about Thomas Perry...

Other Books in the Series

Butcher's Boy (3 books)
  • Sleeping Dogs (Butcher's Boy, #2)
  • The Informant (Butcher's Boy, #3)
Vanishing Act (Jane Whitefield, #1) Dance for the Dead (Jane Whitefield, #2) Shadow Woman (Jane Whitefield, #3) The Face-Changers (Jane Whitefield, #4) Runner (Jane Whitefield, #6)

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