cover image Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

Thomas Perry. Random House (NY), $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41064-5

Much of the action in Perry's disappointing follow-up to The Butcher's Boy remains jumpy and disjointed as former hitman Michael Schaeffer, aka Charles Frederick Ackerman, William Wolf or Butcher's Boy, is brought out of hiding in England. Ten years have passed since Schaeffer foiled the attempt of mob employer Carlo Balacontano to have him killed in lieu of payment and then framed the Mafia boss for a particularly grisly murder. As this story opens, Schaeffer avoids an assassination attempt at the Brighton racetrack and realizes his cover has been blown. He returns to New York to find out who ordered the hit and how many bad guys may still be after him. Despite the lurid fascination of the characters' pasts, the plot seems more to congeal than thicken as Schaeffer tries to dispose of or evade all who might be on his trail, including Justice Department lawyer Elizabeth Waring, so that he can retire again to the English countryside. With heroes and villains so easily interchangeable, readers may wonder who they should root for, and why. 50,000 first printing. (Apr. )