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The Informant

A Butcher's Boy Novel
Narrated by: Michael Kramer
Series: Butcher's Boy, Book 3
Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Editor reviews

Thomas Perry won the 1983 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel with his debut of The Butcher's Boy. In this long-anticipated third installment, the mafia hitman emerges from retirement to tie up the loose ends of a score he thought was settled 10 years before. Also returning is Elizabeth Waring, who's been moving up the ladder in the Department of Justice by stepping on the toes of organized crime.

Fans of the audiobook series can breathe a sigh of relief, as Michael Kramer continues his fine work narrating the ruthlessly efficient assassin's bloody march toward freedom. Raspy and gruff without any cheesy wise guy embellishment, Kramer's smooth rumble makes for a slick Butcher's Boy who is clearly a head and shoulders above the slimy Cosa Nostra soldiers sent to dispatch him. He goes to Waring to update his intel on the whereabouts of the under-boss who sent the henchmen, giving her some 20-year-old dirt on the older generation in exchange. As the Butcher's Boy steadily murders first the clowns sent to catch him, then the bosses that sent the clowns, Waring races against the rising body count to either turn the Butcher's Boy into a Justice Department informant or just turn him in.

Kramer has a finely tuned ear for Perry's pacing, and falls lock-step into the rhythms of this righteous killing spree. Sure, the Butcher's Boy has murdered untold numbers of people on behalf of the mob, but all he wants now is freedom from the mob. Michael Kramer finds space to make him respectable and even likable. Thomas Perry has updated the character for middle age without making him any less clever or more insecure. The author and the character both have their priorities in the right place, forgoing glamorous punch lines for the perfect kill shot and showing a willingness to sacrifice everything for the goal at hand, perhaps even Elizabeth Waring. —Megan Volpert

Summary

Married and living in England under the name Michael Schaeffer, the assassin known as the Butcher's Boy is the target of a Mafia hit team sent to exact revenge for his deadly campaign against the Balacontano family years earlier. Schaeffer kills all three attackers, but he knows more will come and needs to find whoever sent them to end it once and for all.

Soon Elizabeth Waring, now high up in the Organized Crime Division of the Justice Department, receives a surprise late-night visit from the Butcher's Boy. Knowing she keeps track of the Mafia, he asks her who the three men work for. Not knowing they have been murdered, she gives him a name: Frank Tosca, an aspirant to the Balacontano throne. In exchange, he tells her about a murder Tosca committed over 20 years ago.

So begins a new assault on organized crime, and the uneasy alliance between the Butcher's Boy and Waring, who trade current information for old secrets. As the Butcher's Boy works his way ever closer to his quarry in an effort to protect his new way of life, Waring finds herself in a race against time, either to convince him to become a protected informant or to take him out of commission for good.

Prolong the suspense - listen to Thomas Perry's first two books in this series: The Butcher's Boy and Sleeping Dogs.
©2011 Thomas Perry (P)2011 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Perry offers a compelling, rapid-fire plot, credible Mafia and FBI secondary characters, an indictment of self-serving officialdom, and the old soul-shattering moral dilemma: what is truth?" ( Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ms. Carson
  • Ms. Carson
  • 14-05-11

sucker for anything that's the butcher's boy

I was aware of the Butcher's Boy for many years before allowing myself to be pulled in by the fact that this was an Edgar Award winning novel by a first time published author (pretty sure my facts are correct--or close enough to count as correct). Anyway, I was hooked after page one and by the end was pretty darn sure I'd read the last word on the Butcher's Boy. I mean, who can keep a series going about a non-feeling, clinical-like, loner hit-man? Well, evidently, Thomas Perry can and did. When Sleeping Dogs came out I was in literary-thriller heaven and counted myself lucky that Perry managed a second book on the B Boy. However, last week, I sumbled upon The Informant while browsing. I couldn't hit the select button fast enough. I've been listending to it every spare chance I get and for a third time I am not dissapointed. Neither Perry, nor the Butcher's Boy series has lost a step. If you're familiar with the series, you know what to expect. If you're not, but you like mystery-thrillers, start with the Butcher's Boy first, Sleeping Dogs next and then The Informant. I give this series my highest recommendation. Oh--and I rarely comment on the readers/actors, but Michael Kramer is perfect for this series and this character. You go boy!

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ed
  • Ed
  • 28-08-12

Great conclusion but sometimes slow going

The last 30 minutes of this novel pushed it from three stars to four stars. Before that, the author seemed to break into the story too many times with flashbacks into the Butcher's Boy previous encounters. It was almost like he was trying to figure out what was going to happen next and killed a little time (no pun intended) with flashbacks. It happened too often. The Butcher's Boy is not very likable but, when compared with the people he goes up against, he's the lesser of the evils. He's all business but he does betray a softer side several times in this story in his encounters with a female Justice Department agent. Except for the frequent flashbacks the story flows well and the conclusion was one that most listeners will approve. I'll probably give Perry and narrator, Kramer, another try with Sleeping Dogs.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Chip Atkinson
  • Chip Atkinson
  • 01-03-12

Worth every penny! Loved it!

What made the experience of listening to The Informant the most enjoyable?

The flow of the story was fast paced, but not too much so. There was duel suspense of the Butcher's Boy and the career justice officer.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed the characters.

Which character ??? as performed by Michael Kramer ??? was your favorite?

I liked both hero and heroine. They were smart, conflicted and professional.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I just could'nt stop listening. I finished it in 2 days at the detriment of my sleep and work!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for SarahHouston
  • SarahHouston
  • 18-05-11

Not as good as first two

I loved Butcher's Boy and Sleeping Dogs but this one was a bit disappointing. The first half of the book spends too much time describing events from the earlier books and the current events are not given as much depth as they should. The story just seemed a bit flat and the ending had some really unbelievable details in an already unbelievable story! Of course you will want to listen to it if you have read the first two, but it isn't as good.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brock
  • Brock
  • 04-12-13

He's a likeable killer

The story is about a long-retired, top-level assasin who's forced back into action when a mob boss gives orders for his assassination. The story wasn't overly complex, but it was definitely worth listening to. I liked the pace with which the author wrote. It never felt rushed, and he allowed us inside the mind of Schaeffer as he pondered his next moves. To me, this was one of the best parts of the story. The ending was great, and I didn't see it coming, so that's a big plus as well.

I will definitely recommend this book to my friends. It's solid 4.5 star listen. The half star deduction is due to a relatively unoriginal storyline, but beyond that the book is a good one.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Richard Delman
  • Richard Delman
  • 05-03-12

Brilliant! Mr. Perry does it again.

This is the most recent in the Butcher's Boy series that Thomas Perry began twenty years ago. He just keeps getting better and better, something I would have thought implausible in 1982. The butcher's boy and Elizabeth Waring are intertwined again, this time with the entire Mafia and the Justice Department. The butcher's boy has angered the Mob, to the point where they all meet in Phoenix to agree to kill him. It is one man against the entire Mob. This may sound like something that Mr. Perry might not be able to pull off, but rest easy. He has become a true master of his craft, and Michael Kramer is once again a master of his. How Mr. Perry gets us to side with a professional hit man is just a remarkable feat, and yet we never question it. I can hardly believe it myself. Again the chapters alternate between the butcher's boy and Elizabeth, and again that is a perfect device to keep us guessing, and to cement the very odd relationship between us and them. The suspense heightens as the story goes along, and it never flags. Once again the butcher's boy accomplishes what sound like superhuman feats, and yet we know that he is not a cartoon character. He is human, flesh and blood. He simply is a master of what he does, just as Mr. Perry is. Each time he does this, I just can't imagine how he will top himself, and each time he does it. Analogies fail me, but Michael Jordan and Joe Montana come to mind. At the end of their games, every single person watching knew what was going to happen, and yet no one could stop it. This may be reaching, but see for yourself. Mr. Perry is truly one of a kind.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for William
  • William
  • 28-06-11

The series is starting to lose traction.

The book starts out well enough, if a bit too similar to the last one. Perhaps to avoid the reality that this book is not that dissimilar to "Sleeping Dogs", Perry creates a fantastic plot line, which stretched credibility with each passing event. Towards the end, it was difficult to see how the story could reach a credible conclusion. It didn't.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for CBDC
  • CBDC
  • 25-06-11

Perry is unique

It's hard to describe a Thomas Perry book - especially the Butcher's Boy series. The protagonist is a true anti-hero. You should hate him, but you love him, root for him, are amazed by his skill. This series is amazing. I fear "The Informant" is the last, but maybe ... maybe. Perry is unique, understated, and his writing is brilliant. If you haven't listened to one yet, start with "The Butcher's Boy", then "Sleeping Dogs", and lastly "The Informant". But don't listen to five minutes of the narration and go "this is terrible, there's no affect." Keep on listening and you'll realize you're inside Michael Schaefer's head. And then everything makes sense weirdly.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John Burrus
  • John Burrus
  • 31-08-17

A big hole and several inconsistencies

If this had been a stand-alone novel, I probably would have given it something closer to a 4, but there are just too many inconsistencies between this one and the prior ones in the BB series and a big hole in all of them. In the last one, set 10 years before, Waring had moved to Alexandria after her husband died, her son is 4 and her daughter has just been born. In this one, she is said to have moved to McLean after his death (Alexandria is never mentioned), her son is just about to go to college and her daughter is in high school. Waring apparently doesn't recall that she spent a whole evening with BB in the last one because she doesn't recognize him in their early meetings and never recalls that prior evening with him in their numerous other meetings. Didn't Perry or his editors bother to read the prior ones before publishing this?

Apart from the inconsistencies (there are others), there is one big hole in this one and the others: why does BB, the master of everything relating to his trade, never even consider plastic surgery or at least a disguise? He just walks around large cities and into mob meetings and seems to bump into everyone he ever knew 20 or 30 years ago, all of whom (except Waring) recognize him instantly.

But it's still enjoyable in a sort of Joe Pike/Jason Bourne sort of way and the narrator is excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bonnie
  • Bonnie
  • 19-08-12

A lukewarm, so-so book

A lukewarm, so-so book, “The Informant – a Butcher's Boy Novel” is a killing novel, not a murder mystery. Somehow it kept me going on but in the end my first impression was correct. I thought it was slow and totally unbelievable.

The Butcher’s Boy (Schaeffer), a retired hit man, is killing mafia bosses after they put a contract out on him. He has no trouble finding them and shots always miss him. Elizabeth Waring of the Justice Department has a very unlikely alliance with him. She uses him as an informant and supplies him with information. In so doing, she's in constant conflict with her boss, Dale Hunsecker, who is depicted as an appointee and a buffoon with no experience for the job. The entire scenario is not believable.

I did find myself rooting for Schaeffer just because he was killing off Mafioso members because they were trying to kill him. This is despite the fact that he is a stone cold killer.

The ending resolves a complicated situation but is a letdown. Things could have been tied up more satisfactorily concerning Elizabeth’s incompetent boss, where Schaeffer is heading, and the conclusion in general. In short, this was a disappointing book and I will not be reading another Thomas Perry book in the near future.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful