Jane Whitefield is back: “Runner”

After a hiatus of nine years, Thomas Perry has written the sixth Jane Whitefield novel. I don’t know when I have been more excited to read a new entry in a favorite series. The first Jane Whitefield book, Vanishing Act, is one of the most intense, fascinating, and thoroughly satisfying mysteries/thrillers I’ve ever come across. If you haven’t yet discovered this series, start with Vanishing Act; Jane grows, learns, and changes through the series, and you want to follow that process. Living in upstate New York, she is part Seneca with strong ties to the culture and religion. That heritage is part of the foundation of her work: she helps people “disappear,” just as the “little people” in a traditional Seneca story remove people from the world for a period of time. Jane is not particularly interested in meting out justice or punishment, but she is powerfully drawn to the task of helping people who are pursued by stronger, tougher aggressors drop from sight and begin again. Perry details with great care the complex steps in Jane’s creation of a new identity, so that the process seems utterly clear, yet magical. Her strength, certainty, and determination are quite convincing.

From Perry’s webpage, it’s clear that many of his fans have urged him to return to Jane since the fifth installment, Blood Money, in 1999.

I don’t know if you have had this experience, but sometimes a long-awaited book is a major diappointment when I finally read it. Not Runner, and I suppose I should have expected that as excellent a writer as Perry wouldn’t disappoint, but in fact, Runner is beyond good. Jane has been married for ten years and is fully engaged in being the wife to surgeon Carrey McKinnon, including wanting a child. When young, pregnant Christine turns up in fear for her life, Jane doesn’t hesitate. Every character is pitch-perfect in this wild ride of a novel, and Jane is fully her ten-years-on self. Fantastic!

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