Picks and Pans Review: Big Fish
by Thomas Perry
Altmeyer sells weapons—the deadlier the better-to anyone who can come up with the cash. His beautiful wife, Rachel, helps him. They live a lavish life in California with a herd of pet goats and a fish pond. Together they make a sophisticated, Thin Man kind of brittle, fun-loving fictional couple, updated to the 1980s. In an act of neighborliness they help Bucky, an L.A. talent agent, dispose of a murderous drug dealer. That problem solved, Altmeyer, Rachel and Bucky begin delivery on a load of guns to a group of Japanese terrorists. The deals get bigger and bigger; killings are commonplace. Then someone puts together the biggest weapon of all and plans to show what it can do, including a blackmail scheme to blow up Antarctica. Nobody in the world but Altmeyer can put a stop to it. Most of this thriller is dialogue: talk that's sharp, sometimes funny, and a little bit out of sync. When Altmeyer's wife asks him if he loves her, he replies, "I get embarrassed out there on the dance floor alone, and I like to have somebody hear me laugh at my own jokes." There's enough plot here for six yarns. Perry, author of Butcher's Boy and Metzger's Dog, has created a fast-reading, big-time, silky thriller. (Scribner's, $15.95)
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