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    Review of PERIL by Thomas H. Cook

    Bantam Books, February 2004

    Sara Labriola has had enough of abuse. Gathering up her courage, she runs away from her husband, his abusive father, and everything she owns. She has a dream of creating a new life in New York--a dream that isn't really formed, doesn't make a lot of sense, and that she doesn't dare believe that she deserves. But one thing is certain--she can't go back to the life she formerly led. Unfortunately for Sara, her father-in-law has other plans. Leo Labriola is a minor mobster who demands respect and knows that a woman's place is exactly where the dominant male puts her. In his family, he is dominant. It doesn't matter that Sara's husband, Tony, wants Sara left alone. Leo intends to have her found--and punished.

    Private detective Stark has a recurring nightmare--that he'll lead another killer to his victim. And something about this case doesn't feel right. His nightmare is sending all sorts of warnings, but he trusts his partner and Mortimer is telling him that this is a simple deal. But Mortimer is lying--in debt to the mob for gambling losses and willing to say anything to get himself out of trouble.

    Author Thomas H. Cook (see more reviews of novels by Cook) starts powerfully. Sara's terror, springing from her current situation and from long-past rapes and victimization, is horribly real painful. Leo Labriola's sidekick, Caruso is also well depicted--torn between fear and admiration for the man who took him in and whom, he hopes, will some day make him a made man in the mob--some day trust him to kill.

    Cook's strong beginning doesn't quite carry through to the rest of the novel. There is too much coincidence in the discovery of Sara's hiding place and some characters, especially Stark, are just not that interesting. Still, Cook's writing is strong enough to pull the reader in and it certainly kept me engrossed from the fascinating beginning through the foreshadowed but still unexpected end.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 4/08/04

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