From Henry Bass ’57:

Joseph S. Perrott ‘57 has just published an exciting novel, SURE-KILL, now available from Amazon. Joe was in my class and was an all-time Eph football and lacrosse great. (He is in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.) After Williams he was invited by the then-legendary Baltimore Colts to try out for their football team.

Instead he went to Penn to study English literature. Though his profs wanted him to go on for a PhD, he decided to teach English and coach football at Penn Charter, a well-known private secondary school in Philadelphia. At Penn Charter he discovered a talent for counseling young people with problems. So mid-career he went back to school to get a degree in psychology and has been practicing therapy for some years.

He calls SURE-KILL a “fictional memoir,” implying that his novel is a case study of a psycho killer based on personal counseling experience. Joe may not have had a psycho killer as bad as Paul, his main character, but he must have had patients that really scared him.

The novel deals with the forces that shaped Paul, from a bad family situation to difficult colleagues. Paul also suffers from the failures of psychotherapy, including some practiced on him by his therapist sister. Paul is too much of a challenge for bungling cops and easily breaks out of a mental institution.

SURE-KILL is a penetrating critique of the failure of therapy professionals to deal with dangerous people. It is also an exciting and moving story, a tribute to Joe’s literary background. He effectively switches back and forth from a third-person narrative to a first-person account by Paul, the killer. You come to identify with Paul and realize that if you had been unlucky enough to inherit a terrible gene all this might have happened to you (though Joe does not take sides in the nature-nurture debate.)

It’s an important book on a subject that really matters, and an exciting read.

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