(Jump over to read a review of Silence and Nightllife)
(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky JAN 8, 2009)
"I'm the last resort. A person comes to me only when the possibility of living as the person he's always been is gone. I can show you the way to sink out of sight, and come up again somewhere else as a new person. I can do it. But that doesn't mean you can. It isn't easy, and there are terrible sacrifices."
In Thomas Perry's Runner, Jane Whitefield has enjoyed a blissful ten years living in upstate New York with her husband, Dr. Carey McKinnon. Jane is jolted out of her comfortable existence when a pregnant twenty-year old named Christine Monahan comes to her pleading for help. Christine has traveled all the way from San Diego, knowing that Jane has a reputation as a "guide" who helps innocent people flee from those who would do them harm. Whitfield not only helps runners escape, but she also invents new identities for them and teaches them how to sever ties with their past. Jane, who is descended from the Seneca tribe, is an expert markswoman and a good tracker with excellent survival instincts. Christine informs Jane that she is fleeing from her wealthy and abusive boyfriend, Richard Beale, who has sent four men and two women to abduct her.
Jane leaves a telephone message for Carey and takes Christine on the road, where she obtains forged documents and makes plans for the expectant mother to live quietly until after the baby is born. Whitefield warns Christine that no strategy is foolproof. If Christine makes one small mistake, the chasers could be on her trail instantly, with catastrophic results. Worst of all, the runner must live with the fact that "it isn't easy and there are terrible sacrifices." Furthermore, "it would never be over. It would go on until either she was dead or the chasers were." Jane, who has to be one of the most altruistic heroines in fiction, temporarily leaves her husband and uses a great deal of her own time and money to keep Christine safe. There may be another reason for helping this particular client. While Jane has longed for a child for years, she has thus far been unable to conceive. At least she will have a chance to help Christine live long enough to have a son or daughter of her own.
Perry is a superb writer who excels at spare descriptive writing and dialogue. His sentences are lucid and straightforward and the narrative moves along swiftly as the action, which includes hair-raising car chases and shootouts, steadily revs up. The characters are, for the most part, well drawn. They include the intrepid and resourceful Jane Whitefield, whose empathy leads her to perform incredibly heroic acts; Christine who, although young and vulnerable, has an underlying toughness that she will need in the days ahead; and Richard Beale, a selfish, immature, and immoral individual, whose parents created a monster by indulging his whims for far too long. Jane's husband, however, is a bit too good-natured. It is difficult to believe that he would put up with Jane's perilous and disruptive work without protesting more vociferously. A flaw or two in Carey's personality would spice things up and make their relationship more realistic. Still, Perry has constructed a lively and involving story and Runner has enough thrills and excitement to keep readers coming back for more from this master of suspense.
- Amazon readers rating: from 55 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Butcher's Boy (1982)
- Metzger's Dog (1983)
- Big Fish (1985)
- Island (1988)
- Sleeping Dogs (1992)
- Death Benefits (2001)
- Pursuit (2001)
- Dead Aim (2002)
- Nightlife (March 2006)
- Silence (June 2007)
- Fidelity (May 2008)
- Strip (May 2010)
- The Informant (May 2011) *
*The Butcher's Boy returns
Jane Whitefield series:
- Vanishing Act (1995)
- Dance for the Dead (1996)
- Shadow Woman (1997)
- The Face-Changers (1998)
- Blood Money (1999)
- Runner (January 2009)
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- Official website for Thomas Perry
- MostlyFiction.com review of Nightlife
- MostlyFiction.com review of Silence
- Thrilling Detective on Jane Whitefield
- The Mystery Reader review of The Face Changers
- January Magazine review of Blood Money
- MostlyFiction.com review of The Informant
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About the Author:
Thomas Perry was born in Tonawanda, New York in 1947. He received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester in 1974. He has worked as a park maintenance man, factory laborer, commercial fisherman, university administrator and teacher, and a writer and producer of prime time network television shows.
He lives in Southern California with his wife and two daughters.