Thomas Perry is the American author of the Jane Whitefield crime mystery book series featuring Jane, a Native American guide who helps the desperate and those fleeing from the enemy vanish. I first learned about this author when I’ve read the first book in his Butcher’s Boy series which started in the early 1980s. Jane Whitefield is his second series, and Jack Till is his third popular series.
Here are the Thomas Perry books in order of publication for each of his series, and the long list of his numerous standalone novels.
New Thomas Perry Books
Butcher’s Boy Series
- The Butcher’s Boy (Butcher’s Boy #1), 1982
- Sleeping Dogs (Butcher’s Boy #2), 1992
- The Informant (Butcher’s Boy #3), 2011
Jane Whitefield Series
- Vanishing Act (Jane Whitefield #1), 1994
- Dance For The Dead (Jane Whitefield #2), 1996
- Shadow Woman (Jane Whitefield #3), 1997
- The Face-Changers (Jane Whitefield #4), 1998
- Blood Money (Jane Whitefield #5), 1999
- Runner (Jane Whitefield #6), 2009
- Poison Flower (Jane Whitefield #7), 2012
- A String of Beads (Jane Whitefield #8), 2014
Jack Till Series
Fargo Adventures Series
contributed to the series by Clive Cussler
Other Thomas Perry Books
- Metzger’s Dog, 1983
- Big Fish, 1985
- Island, 1988
- Death Benefits, 2001
- Pursuit, 2001
- Dead Aim, 2002
- Nightlife, 2006
- Fidelity, 2008
- Strip, 2010
- Forty Thieves, 2015
- The Book of the Lion (Bibliomysteries #20), 2015
- The Old Man, 2017
- The Bomb Maker, 2018
- The Burglar, 2019
- A Small Town, 2019
Thomas Perry Biography
Thomas Edmund Perry was born in 1947, in Tonawanda, New York, which would become the setting for his Jane Whitefield series. While he grew up at the western end of New York State, he has lived in Southern California since 1974. With both educated parents (his father Richard Perry was a superintendent of schools and his mother Elizabeth Perry, an English teacher), he grew up surrounded by a love of books. He always wrote stories, even as a child, from science-fiction to fantasy, historical, and adventure tales. However, the first book that finally got published, The Butcher’s Boy, was a crime mystery novel, so this is the genre he would eventually settle on writing, going on to improve from book to book as his experience grow over time.
Thomas attended Cornell University, from where he received a B.A. in 1969. Next he continued his education by attending the University of Rochester graduate school from where he earned his Ph.D. in English Literature in 1974. As an English major, he always liked to read books of all sorts. Some of his favorite authors are Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William Faulkner, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville.
Over the years, he held several very diverse jobs, including commercial fisherman, maintenance man, weapons mechanic, university administrator and teacher, TV writer and producer, and, of course, book author. Between 1975 and 1980, he was assistant to the provost of the College of Creative Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. This is where he met his second wife, Jo Anne Lee, who is also a writer and holds a doctorate in English. Some of the TV shows Perry helped produce were 21 Jump Street, Simon & Simon, and Start Trek: The Next Generation.
His debut novel, The Butcher’s Boy, became the first in his same-titled series, and it also received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Metzger’s Dog, his second novel, was a New York Times Notable Book and was voted one of NPR’s 100 Killer Thrillers–Best Thrillers Ever. Vanishing Act, the first Jane Whitefield story, was included in the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers’ Association, and Nightlife, another standalone novel, became a New York Times bestseller.
In 2010, Strip was chosen as a New York Times Notable Crime Book, and the next year, in 2011, The Informant was a New York Times Notable Crime Book. The Informant also won the Barry Award for Best Thriller the same year. Another Jane Whitefield book, Poison Flower, was chosen among Booklist’s Best Crime Novels of 2013
Initially, when he started writing, Thomas Perry decided to only write standalone novels. However, once he finished Vanishing Act, he realized that Jane had so much more to tell; her story was not yet finished, and the author had many more ideas to include in her tales. So his first series was born.
The Butcher’s Boy is also a shorter series, one which the author revisits every couple of decades. The second book in the series was published exactly 10 years after the first book. Also, in the Jane Whitefield series, the initial number of books were 5, as this is the number the author had worked out with the publisher. Again, 10 years later, he revisited the series and wrote a sixth book, and then added two more over the course of next five years.
Currently, Thomas Perry wrote as many standalone novels as he wrote in all his series put together. In an interview, he mentioned that he still likes to write standalone titles best with characters that do not repeat book after book. Every now and then, he likes to revisit and add a new book to an existing series, but the time frame between publishing standalone novels and character-driven series is very different.
In terms of his writing process, Thomas Perry doesn’t outline, unless he feels his plot is lost. He sits down with his wife Jo Anne Lee, who is also a writer, down at a desk each after walking the dog, and both write until in the afternoon when it’s time to take out the dogs once again.
The standalone book The Old Man is being made into an FX TV series featuring Jeff Bridges. Other main starring actors are John Lithgow, Alia Shawcat, Austin Stowell (who will play a younger version of Dan Chase), and Amy Brennenman. The team working on The Old Man is the same who created Black Sails. The script is written by Jon Steinberg and Robert Levine, and the show will be directed by Jon Watts. The production began in Fall 2019, and the series will premiere on Hulu in Fall 2020. The FX description of the series:
Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Thomas Perry, “The Old Man” centers on “Dan Chase” (Bridges) who absconded from the CIA decades ago and has been living off the grid since. When an assassin arrives and tries to take Chase out, the old operative learns that to ensure his future he now must reconcile his past.
Praise for the Thomas Perry Books
Sardonic humor is rare in American mysteries. It is the kind of humor that creeps up on you and suddenly your reaction is a wry smile as you read the double-edged melodrama which abounds in Thomas Perry’s work. (Washington Times)
Plenty of characters, plenty of emotion, plenty of insider expertise, but most of all plenty of irresistible momentum toward a fantastic climax―in other words, The Bomb Maker is typical Thomas Perry. (Lee Child on The Bomb Maker)
Propulsive, darkly humorous . . . As the likable, series-worthy Abels struggle to survive at least long enough to solve [the] murder, Perry tosses in several hairpin plot twists that culminate in a satisfyingly surprising conclusion. (Publishers Weekly)
The fact is, there are probably only half a dozen suspense writers now alive who can be depended upon to deliver high voltage shocks, vivid, sympathetic characters, and compelling narratives each time they publish. Thomas Perry is one of them. (Stephen King)
Perry is so skillful with the old chase-and-pursuit routine, creates such interesting characters, and writes about them so tellingly, one wants more immediately, not next year―right now. (Boston Globe)
Mr. Perry’s characters come to life with a single sentence. . . . He’s one of the greatest living writers of suspense fiction. (The New York Sun)
- Thomas Perry official author website
- Ethan Iverson’s notes on the author’s work
- Author’s publisher page