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Not-so-randomly, I thought I would recommend one of my husband’s and my favorite authors, Thomas Perry, who writes suspense thrillers that are better than just about anyone’s. And no wonder—he has a Ph.D. in English! But that’s not all—anybody can get a few letters after his name—Perry also knows how to listen, observe, and write, and he has a sense of humor. But also, unlike a lot of dime-a-dozen thriller authors, Perry understands that ultimately, this is serious:

Death is not a joke. It’s not a little thing. It’s not a funny thing. There is a temptation on the part of people who write this kind of book, to make it very elegant. I don’t want that. I want the five quarts of blood to go out on the ground so that people know that this is real, a big deal to kill somebody. When I write something violent, afterwards, I am depressed. It depresses me. What I am trying to do is have other people affected by it in the same way I am. That is, both to be afraid and then to be sad about it. I am not sure why I write about violence except that there are certain things about people who are involved in those situations that I admire very much. People who display a lot of courage, for instance, or people who are very cunning.

Demonstrating once again that anything worth doing is worth doing well, including “genre” literature. Here’s a list of Perry’s books, most of which can be obtained from your local library. And Perry’s list of five essential novels by other people.

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