Bantam, Feb 2004, 23.95, 320 pp.
Mortimer has three months left at best to live and he has nothing to leave his wife but shattered dreams and hopes. All his money was lost at the track and he is into loan shark Leonardo Labriola for $15,000 with no way to pay it. Labriola's son Tony finds out his wife Sara left him and he does not have a clue why but his father is rabid that his daughter-in-law must be found.
Leonardo's henchman Vinnie knows Mortimer is acquainted with a private investigator named Stark who finds missing people. Labriola will excuse Mortimer's debt and give Stark $30,000 fee for locating Sara. Mortimer gives $15,000 to his friend Abe, who runs a bistro, to give to his wife after he dies. When Abe hires Sara to sing and play music at his bistro a showdown between the various players becomes a certainty.
Thomas H. Cook writes brilliant works of psychological suspense and PERIL is his crowning achievement. Readers are left to wonder until the very last chapter why Sara left Tony after nine years of marriage and why her father-in-law, not her husband is so eager to find her. Events culminate in a showdown at Abe's place of business and the results will shock and stun readers who would have never guessed what ghosts drove Sara and the other players in this very sick game.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner