Jane Whitefield

When you’re in trouble, and hunted by people who can harm you, find Jane Whitefield: She can help you disappear.

Jane is a tall, raven haired, blue-eyed “guide” of Seneca Indian heritage.  Extremely intelligent, highly resourceful and very tough, Jane helps people hide from dangerous people and circumstances, guiding them out of their old life into a new, complete with a new identity and history, and making it as difficult as possible for the pursuer to find them.  When Jane runs into her clients’ pursuers, she does whatever necessary to keep the client safe until they’ve disappeared.

Cover Art for Vanishing Act

Jane Whitefield is the creation of Edgar Award winning author Thomas Perry. He introduced Jane in his novel Vanishing Act, a taunt thriller in which she helps a friend of a previous client disappear, only to find that doing so has put the first client in danger.  Perry creates more page-turning situations and exploits for Jane in four more novels: Dance for the Dead finds Jane protecting two clients from the same ruthless pursuer; One of Jane’s clients is found and pursued by two assassins in Shadow Woman; in The Face Changers, Jane tries to hide a plastic surgeon from pursuers who know all of Jane’s tricks and techniques.

The fifth of the series, Blood Money, doesn’t live up to others in the series.  Jane’s efforts to aid a young woman and an aging mafia account are reduced to her staying ahead of the mafia as she transports computer hard drives cross country.  Reviewers on Amazon.com point out that her opponents this time are the focus of the novel instead of Jane and her clients and not as interesting as antagonists in Perry’s other novels.  When no new Jane Whitefield novels were published in the following years, I believed that perhaps Perry had run his course with Jane and decided to retire her.  Turns out that I was partially right:  Perry says in his website that writing should be a learning and growth experience, and after five novels he had learned all that he could with Jane.

But Perry didn’t give up on Jane completely.  This past January, after a 10 year absence, Perry published the sixth Jane Whitefield novel, Runner.  Jane, no longer a guide and living a comfortable married life, is compelled back into the business when a pregnant woman comes to her for help.  The woman is pursued by ruthless henchmen, hired by the child’s father to bring her back to him.  But they are no match for Jane’s fearlessness and wit, and Jane manages to hide her.  When the henchmen find and kidnap the woman from her hiding place, Jane must find up her trail and rescue her before the mother and child are harmed.

Runner returns the thrills that were absent in Blood Money, though it’s not the page-turner like the previous novels.  About the second third of the book takes a long departure from Jane to look at her client and the antagonist:  A domestic drama with a dastardly edge.  But Perry comes back to Jane to explore new aspects of Jane’s character and new challenges she faces in hiding a person in the digital age.

Runner is a good return to the Jane Whitefield series, and, if Perry intends to continue the series, a promise of more thrills to come.

*****

All six of the Jane Whitefield novels are available at various CCLS libraries.

Other books by Thomas Perry are available at CCLS libraries, including his prize winners Butcher’s Boy and Metzger’s Dog.

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Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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