BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Boyfriend’: Taut Thriller Explores World of High-Class Escort Women and the Dangers They Face

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'The Boyfriend': Taut Thriller Explores World of  High-Class Escort Women and the Dangers They Face

  Jack Till is a private investigator, enjoying a second career after serving the Los Angeles Police Department for more than two decades as a homicide detective. Most of his work, as is the case for all private investigators, is gathering evidence for civil cases and other routine work.
When the Hamiltons call on him for help solving the murder case of their daughter Catherine, a high-class prostitute working her own Internet escort service, Jack, in Thomas Perry’s “The Boyfriend” (Mysterious Press, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc., 288 pages, $25.00) is at first reluctant to take on the case, but the money is good and Jack sympathizes with the distraught couple: He has a 28-year-old daughter, Holly, with Down syndrome. 

Holly Till lives in a group home and works for a florist. Jack raised her after his wife abandoned Holly and Jack, unable to cope with a special needs child. I was impressed with the way Jack and Holly interact; it’s obvious that Perry — an experienced novelist of both standalone and series thrillers — knows how to handle the special father-daughter bond. 

The case is still open, another factor that Till doesn’t like, but the LAPD Robbery Homicide folks are working on the obvious premise that Catherine was murdered by one of her clients. Swayed by the Hamiltons, Till takes the case and is immediately plunged into the world of online prostitution. 

As Till digs deeper, he realizes that the victim is just one of several young female escorts killed in different cities in the exact same way – all had strawberry blonde hair, and all were shot with a 9mm handgun in the sanctity of their apartments. And all had as a house guest a lover who didn’t pay for her favors.

Till’s a quick study, honed by his experience in Robbery Homicide, and it’s a good thing because he’s got to find his way around the tawdry and secretive online escort business;  decode ads placed by young women who all use false names, sometimes advertise using other women’s pictures, and move from city to city every few months. When Till   finally catches up with the killer, he finds that the man he’s after is far more dangerous and volatile than he ever could have imagined. As the body count rises, Till must risk his life to find this seductive and ruthless killer whose murderous spree masks a far deadlier agenda. 

In less than 300 pages, Perry has crafted a story that would make an excellent film in the right hands. I’d like to see it directed by a director  who hasn’t worked for a while, namely  Martin Brest (“Midnight Run” and “Meet Joe Black”)  as well as  “Beverly Hills Cop.” Brest is only 61; why he hasn’t turned out a bunch of movies is a mystery to me. 

Perry’s prose is perfect. “The Boyfriend”  is a model for thriller writers and one that should reinforce the reputation of the author of “The Butcher’s Boy” and “The Informant.” If you haven’t read anything by Thomas Perry, you’re in for a delightful surprise.
About the Author

Thomas Perry, noted for his sophisticated and humorous suspense novels, has written 21 novels, many national bestsellers, including The Butcher’s Boy, which won the Best First Novel Edgar award, and the celebrated Jane Whitefield series. His website:


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