“Murder Book” by Thomas Perry thrills from the beginning following Chicago private investigator to criminal activity in Indiana.

In “Murder Book” Harry Duncan is a former policeman now working in Chicago as a private investigator. As the story starts the US Attorney has just inquired about hiring him to look into some criminal activity in Indiana. He’s reluctant to take the job because this particular prosecutor is also his ex-wife. Their marriage ended badly and they have rarely spoken since.

Naturally he agrees because otherwise we would have no story. Duncan is a methodical guy. He reminded me a bit of Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher. The sort of fellow who walks into hardware stores to obtain arrays of seemingly unrelated items we anticipate he’ll eventually deploy with devastating ingenuity against the baddies.

Duncan heads to Indiana to check out the situation there. He wants to blend in so he is driving a nondescript car. Upon arriving he stops at a restaurant and he’s just settling in to eat when he’s informed that there are some guys messing around with his car in the parking lot.

Then Duncan really begins to impress as he deals with a couple of thugs who try to shake him down. This is his first encounter with a criminal gang that is in the process of taking over the region. Local businesses are being threatened; pay us protection money or else. Homeowners are getting intimidated into selling their properties for pittances. It makes no sense. What are they doing here? And why?

I savored this rip roaring, gripping thriller.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.com.

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