“A Small Town” by Thomas Perry opens with a tragedy of epic proportions. On July 19, there was a disturbance on cellblock C of Weldonville Federal Penitentiary in Colorado. The prison break had been designed so multiple inmates executed every step accurately and methodically, like a well-designed piece of machinery. Twelve hundred inmates left prison that night; ninety-seven people were murdered including eight officers. For Weldonville, there were two times: the time before and the time after.
Detective Lieutenant Leah Hawkins mourned the loss of the city and the people she knew and loved. Two years later the FBI had still not found the twelve who engineered the massacre, and Hawkins was determined to change that. This task would be the ultimate test of her skills. She practiced; she trained; she studied; she equipped herself for the task. She had been a great homicide cop, and she did not need anyone’s help to commit a few murders.
Every aspect of her plan was comprehensive and meticulous. She was focused, systematic, and sometimes simply lucky. She took her time, a lot of time; after all, she had all the time she needed, but time was running out for the twelve. The twelve had not forgotten either; they were, after all, dishonest and vicious men. They would not let Hawkins just run through her list without complications.
“A Small Town” is full of tragedy, persistence, determination, and many lucky coincidences. Flashbacks fill in the chilling details of the escape, expanding the actions and roles of prisoners, police, civilians, bystander, and relatives. “A Small Town” is easy to read with a compelling plot. Hawkins is a likeable character despite her operation, and her mission has a surprising and satisfying end. I received a review copy of “A Small Town” from Thomas Perry and Mysterious Press. It was easy to suspend reality during parts of Hawkins’ quest, and I found it fascinating and enjoyable to read.