Man, that was fun. I love Thomas Perry. I have this theory that the really good thriller or mystery writers are the really smart ones: sometimes you get a little growl, like the engine of a Lamborghini in a traffic jam. It’s not a question of frustration, but more a sense of power reined in, and it makes books by these people incredibly effective. Think of the brilliant Dorothy Sayers, whose other job besides creating Lord Peter Wimsey was translating Dante. Or, for heaven’s sake, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
OK, Perry isn’t Tolkien. But he’s very sharp and all of his thrillers show it. (Metzger’s Dog perhaps the most insolently.) The Jane Whitefield novels are probably his most enjoyable for me. Jane is a Seneca who makes people disappear from terrible lives or risks. So you get all the fun of introduction to an alternate universe besides ours, and you get the technical fun of how it all works. Beyond that, Perry has also explored the complications, ethical and emotional, of Jane’s way of life. The books are always, reliably, excellent plot-driven narratives. At their best, they even give you something to think about.
I’m not sure Runner is one of the best, but I was reading in the car so I might have been distracted. It seemed as if Perry was skimping on some opportunities for character development, since Jane has now been married for five years and her husband, naturally enough, hates it when she takes people on the run. She stopped for a while when she married and started up again for this book. It involves, as they all do, a vulnerable person on the run from real baddies. Christine, the runner, is less interesting than some have been, and the bad guy doesn’t quite ring true. Perry’s psychology is usually keener than this and the book ends with a bloodbath. I don’t know how Jane’s going to feel about that in the long run, but Perry makes it clear on the last page that she’ll be back.