Have you read Thomas Perry’s Jane Whitefield novels? They are some of my favorite diversions, taut thrillers with an interesting concept. Jane Whitefield is a Seneca Indian who makes people disappear. They might be abused wives or embezzlers on the run, inadvertent witnesses to dreadful crimes — what they have in common is that somebody wants to hurt them and they have nowhere to go. Jane steps in and spirits them out of their lives, into new existences. Part of the charm of these novels is the suspense, of course, though they are always fundamentally chases. And part of the fun is procedural; I enjoy the how-to of the disappearance. Jane herself is a kind of superwoman, beautiful and brilliant and a fine athlete, but human. I was rather touched when Perry seemed to be retiring Jane from her grueling avocation, by having her marry a handsome doctor.
Well, Jane’s back, but don’t get too excited. Poison Flower is really just a shadow of Jane’s earlier outings. It unites a number of her previous adversaries but only in the sketchiest fashion. If you haven’t read all of the earlier novels recently, you won’t remember who these bad guys are or why they hate Jane, and you certainly won’t perceive our heroine as much beyond a gal with a strong sense of focus and a high pain threshold. She does a lot of cross-country driving, sets up an ambush, shoots some bad guys, ignores a bullet wound, drives some more. Or, wait — maybe this is the screenplay, mistakenly packaged as a book?