Runner: A Jane Whitefield Novel Paperback – 6 Aug 2009
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'A rattling good read' Literary Review. (Literary Review)
From the Back Cover
The fiercely resourceful Native American guide Jane Whitefield returns in the latest superb thriller by award-winning author Thomas Perry For more than a decade, Jane Whitefield pursued her unusual profession: "I'm a guide . . . I show people how to go from places where somebody is trying to kill them to other places where nobody is." Then she promised her husband she would never work again, and she settled in to live a happy, quiet life as Jane McKinnon, wife of a surgeon in Amherst, New York. But when a bomb goes off in the middle of a hospital fundraiser, Jane finds herself face to face with the cause of the explosion: a young pregnant girl who has been tracked across the country by a team of hired hunters. That night, regardless of what she wants or the vow she's made to her husband, Jane must transform one more victim into a runner. "Readers who have been clamoring for the return of Thomas Perry's most popular heroine can stop waiting. After a nine-year absence, Jane Whitefield is back." Associated Press "A first-class thriller and the welcome return of an outstanding series." "Booklist," starred review Thomas Perry is the author of the Jane Whitefield series as well as the best-selling novels "Nightlife," "Death Benefits," and "Pursuit," the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel. He won the Edgar Award for"The Butcher's Boy," and "Metzger's Dog" was a "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year. Perry lives in Southern California." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
We may trust Thomas Perry to come up with a devious plot and yet another fascinating glimpse in Jane's shadow-world (she's half Seneca). As a hard-paced thriller on its own it fully deserves four stars, but as I have enjoyed Jane Whitefield's company for a long time I'm feeling a slight disappointment as the plotting feels as a bit of a pillage from her other adventures in the past.
On the bright side, the book ends with a clear opening to yet another Jane Whitefield encounter in (hopefully) a near future.
My disappointment though is that the other novels are not available for Kindle, so, I will have to take them out of the Library, and the idea for me to have a Kindle was to have less paper books.
His latest, The Runner, is the worst book I've read in years, and reading about 300 books per year, you can imagine I've read some dogs!!
So if you're into cheap penny arcade romance, or endless explanations about everything, from pregnancy to "how to prepare you new baby room", Buy It!!
In the past 10 years, Jane Whitefield no longer helps people in need disappear from their lives. She has married and is living with her husband, Dr. Carey McKinnon in Buffalo New York. Organizing a fund raiser at the hospital, Jane feeling that something is wrong is proved correct when an explosion occurs.
A young, very pregnant, woman tells Jane she is the cause. She is being sought by six people and needs to disappear in order to keep herself, and her baby, safe.
What happened? I used to love the Jane Whitefield books but this was dreadful from the very beginning. ---NOT REALLY A SPOILER since it happens within the first few pages--- Even the initial premise of the bad guys setting off a bomb so the hospital would be evacuated and they could kidnap the girl was absurd. Hello?!? If you want the hospital to be evacuated, you call in a bomb threat, not set one off. And that they set the bomb off in the kitchen the night there just happened to be a fundraiser? No, no, no.
Nothing worked here. It was basically a long road trip without much suspense. The motive behind it all made the book a basic wall-banger for me. I'm afraid, to quote the "Who" song, "Won't get fooled again." Skip this one.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Perry knows Jane Whitefield inside and out, and everything she does in these adventures just rings true. Every new book is like a visit with an old friend, which is how I think of her. She uses her common sense while avoiding the thousands of mistakes most of us would make (phones, email, GPS, Internet, etc.) in making other people vanish without a trace. Of course, the modern world makes vanishing increasingly difficult, and Jane has to strive to keep ahead of all the latest technology that is her profession's enemy. This makes her a bit of an old-fashioned throwback--but it also enables her to get the job done. RUNNER is a fascinating addition to this wonderful series. Recommended.
Jane Whitefield has a calling: she guides people out of the world. If your rich and abusive husband is going to kill you if you leave him, Jane will help you vanish. If the Mafia is on your trail and the Witness Protection Program isn't enough, Jane will give you a new life. Through a combination of physical courage that borders on derring-do and hyper-vigilance, Jane guides the runner through the stages of a vanishing act: new identity and location for transition, another set of realities for the long haul. To make this possible, Jane consults the stars of the underground identity culture - forgers, photographers, bent math whizzes --and she grows identities of her own through a variety of clever strategies.
The well-worn birth-certificate-of-a-dead-kid ploy is way too elementary for Jane Whitefield. If you like heist stories, the prep work she puts into identity-growing will fascinate you. And the real pay-off is this: she does it for good, not for money. Jane doesn't charge her runners. If they have money, she will use it to help them. If they later access money, they often send her a thank-you check. But it's all for the calling, nothing for personal gain. She says she does the work because 1) she is able to do it and 2) it needs to be done.
This very moral stance is somewhat under-cut by the increasing physical violence of the series. Jane racks up a high body count. The implicit rationale for this is that Seneca warriors protect their families. But Jane never says "no" to a runner, so this very elastic definition of family seems a bit facile. But most ethical male heroes slay their tens of thousands - Spenser comes immediately to mind - so I'm not losing sleep over Jane's corpses. They are all bad people doing things they shouldn't be doing. And - unlike many male heroes - Jane never overlooks her failures. We hear again and again about the mistakes she has made and the lives she has lost and this keeps things real. Perry realizes that the possibility of failure raises the level of tension 1000 per cent.
Perry's ability to write a convincing woman hero is very impressive. He ignores all the little things that trip men up - everyday grooming unrelated to disguises, for example - and pays shrewd attention to the way the world assesses women. (Nor is this a one-off feat. Read Nightlife for two amazing women, serial killer and detective.)
And the Seneca material is pure gold.
My favorite thing to find in mystery novels is a new world - art, national parks, Wall Street, computer security, archeology, obscure corners of the academy. Perry gives his readers fabulous chunks of Seneca history and culture, from big-picture contexts to the details of fingernail clippings. The Seneca traditions and culture add a huge dimension to the series and much of the raison d'être for Jane's actions. We meet other Seneca women and men, visit reservations, learn about tribal traditions which make Jane's choices not only believable, but virtually inevitable. And the author's sense of setting is phenomenal. In the first novel, I tracked Jane through the Adirondacks on Google Earth using Perry's vivid (and accurate) descriptions of place. This is an A+ series on almost every level. I just wish there were more novels.
That said, Runner was a disappointment. The post-9/11 security requirements pose a huge problem for Perry, who has Jane jumping on and off planes as if they were London busses in the earlier books. Obviously that has to cease, but it's puzzling that Perry didn't give the Homeland Security topic more play, instead making Jane shy away from airports because so many people are looking for her.
While there's a glam about 10 planes in one day, the book need not have suffered if Perry had given us something else. But we don't get details about Jane's drives, not after the first run with Christine. Similarly, the minutiae of setting up a new life for someone is always fascinating, but here it's merely summarized, not detailed for the reader's enjoyment. The sense of place I loved so much in the first five books has been misplaced here. The Seneca material is only very lightly sketched, as is the character of the runner, and the motivation of the bad guys is barely credible.
Every author has an off day, and this is still a good read. If you are new to the series, comfort yourself that going back to the first five books will be even better.
That said, this one isn't carried through with Perry's usual precision. Without giving away the ending, I'd just like to say that he uses a change of point of view at the end to avoid detailing a rescue that he apparently had lost interest in, or invention for. One of the things I like about this series is that Jane usually uses her ingenuity to avoid bloodshed, but this time she kills 6 people with no apparent repercussions, even though there are people who know of her existence, if not her name. And yet the police are willing to leave that last element unprotected for the rescue I mention above....
Also, the admittedly poignant infertility plot seems weird to me--Carey's a doctor, for god's sake, and the two of them have more money than I can even imagine (I liked when she put the $40,000 charge on her card--billable to another identity, no less)so why not try an IVF cycle, people? I don't think Perry did his research on this one, and he seems to have rushed through the ending. It's still a good read, just not as perfectly plotted as the rest of this series.
"Runner" hits bookstore shelves on January 14 and, once you've fireproofed your favorite reading chair, you should seriously consider added it to your collection. "Runner" is a marvel, and already in the running for my pick for best suspense novel of 2009.
Thomas Perry has always been an underrated scribe. He came out of the gates strong with his first novel "The Butcher's Boy," which won the 1983 Edgar Award for best first mystery novel.
But Perry really didn't hit his stride until he created Jane Whitefield - a Native American woman who helps desperate people "disappear" - guiding them to new lives while helping them escape their pasts, usually filled with various nasty people with guns.
Jane is hard as dried leather - and smart. Her character - the detail oriented, obsessive perfectionist with little humor and a demeanor as sullen as funeral - centers the novel. She's a fascinating case study as she plunges the reader into the underground world of forgeries and the act of "vanishing" without a trace.
Jane made her first appearance in "Vanishing Act" in 1995 and appeared in four more novels before Perry retired her in 2000. The series, however, has proven so popular, that Perry has dusted off Jane nine years later.
Lucky us. The result is "Runner."
Jane is now married to a surgeon in up-state New York and living under the name Jane McKinnon. The action begins immediately as a pregnant teenager named Christine tries to find Jane at the local hospital - where Jane is attending a fundraiser she organized.
There are five professional criminals trailing Christine - and they bomb a wing of the hospital in order to flush Christine out of the building. Christine, however, is fortunate enough to find Jane first.
The rest of "Runner" is a harrowing race to save Christine and her baby from her former boyfriend, a corrupt real estate mogul who needs Christine and his child back to avoid being written out of the family businesses by his demanding father and mother.
"Runner" is relentless - but never allows itself to get away from the characters. Perry gives readers complex characters in Christine and boyfriend Richard Beale (and his complicated family dynamics with his mother and father). There are no stereotypes or casting call characters here, but dynamic human beings.
There are some questionable logic lapses in "Runner" with the hospital bombing front and center (would career criminals in a covert operation really do something that dramatic?). And the relationship between Richard and his criminal friends, led by the enigmatic Steve Demming, fails to hold up under too much scrutiny (and we never get any insight into Demming and his colleagues motivations).
However, "Runner" is just too expertly plotted and burns up the pages like a flamethrower to get too caught up in the trivial complaints. The book is just too good for that. Our recommendation is to just guard against third-degree burns and let Jane Whitefield guide you through "Runner." You won't be sorry.
Like literate blather? Then head over to the Dark Party Review.
The book started out with a bang. It was fast paced, lots of action, and great to see Jane back in top form, along with her physician husband, Carey.
When the plot developed further along and introduced the woman that Jane was going to help, that's where it broke down for me. The "victim" was one dimensional, the bad guys were unbelievable, and the writing was stiff and just didn't flow for me.
Whenever the story was on Jane, it was great. When the other characters were involved, even when husband Carey was talking, there was something missing.
I guess it's hard to meet expectations after so many years of writing about a character we all loved and admired.
I sure hope Mr. Perry tries again, as I have always thought he was a great writer. Maybe he can do better next time out.