Jane Whitefield is a name to be whispered like a prayer - a shadow woman who rescues the helpless and the hunted when their enemies leave them no place to hide.Now, with the bone-deep cunning of her Native American forebears, she arranges a vanishing act for Pete Hatcher, a Las Vegas gambling executive. It should be a piece of cake, but she doesn't yet know about Earl and Linda - professional destroyers who will cash in if Hatcher dies, killers who love to kill...slowly.From Las Vegas to upstate New York to the Rockies, the race between predator and prey slowly narrows until at last they share an intimacy broken only by death.
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Spoiler Alert. In this third book of the Series, Jane Whitefield, super-woman, survivalist, deferential trophy wife, and (mostly) humourless private investigator, comes off with all the excitement of an insurance actuary, and my apologies to all the charismatic actuaries out there (grin).
This Perry protagonist never seems fully fleshed out to me - that saintly, convent girl morality is too evident, whether she's explaining how she's going to fulfill her wifely obligation or why she would vote "no" to a casino on the Reservation or how to avoid getting killed when you are fleeing for your life. Shadow Woman, indeed.
The ricocheting narrative seems to bounce off her, rather than move through her.
I should note that the Whitefield books are not bad; they are just not as good as Perry can be. I think his research is deep, particularly when he's covering geography or explaining how things (eg., firearms) work. So I gave the story a 2 rating.
But Perry can create much better stories, as in The Butcher's Boy series and Metzger's Dog. These thrillers are leavened by wonderful--and sometimes outrageous--comedy. The author can make bad boys (and, to a lesser degree, bad girls) delightful.
For a suave womanizer, Jane's husband, the doctor, is naive to the point of stupidity, making a fetish of politeness and hospitality while the Evil Psycho-Woman uses seductiveness and manipulation to invade his personal space. Within hours, he gives her the key to his house! Really! Did he never see "Fatal Attraction"?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Jane is ruminating about her marriage (skip this part, it's a narrative dead zone). When she starts to help her sexy client run for his life through northern Montana and eventually, Glacier National Park, the plot gains much-needed momentum, with interesting adventures (such as using dog tracking to find humans in the bush and surviving a bear encounter).
Perry likes to write parallel plots where one character is leading one narrative strand and his or her foil is driving a parallel narrative strand. Action and counter-action are interwoven build suspense effectively. Eventually, the strands intersect, and this can be explosive, as in "The Informant" when Elizabeth Waring and The Killer connect in an unanticipated, fantastic, fun way. A similarly exciting parallel narrative played out with Chinese Gordon and the Porterfield in "Metzger's Dog".
In this book, Jane and her husband, each in opposite parts of the country, are separately pursued by one half of the Evil Couple, and both wrestle with brief sexual temptation and resist. But these respective parallel narratives seem overwrought and stretched thin.
Travel, by car, air, and on foot, is a recurring part of Perry's books, and this can be quite entertaining. But in the Whitefield series, it feels as if there is too much time spent en route and not enough time (and character) invested in the arrival. The action feels as if it is happening at arm's length, while we segue into irrelevant sub-plots featuring easy women and a Mafia security chief chasing Jane and her client. And there is one coincidence that beggars belief where the professional killer gives himself away by shooting the wrong guy by mistake, which blows his cover long enough for Jane to escape the scene with her client.
The Evil Ones are shallow, instinctive beings, lacking self-awareness and insight. You want Jane to have more worthy opponents. The Butcher's Boy was a killer you could respect and even like, but when these two are finally stopped, it has the feeling of stopping a robot or runaway train, a resolution which feels flat and anti-climactic.
A final word about the narration. I would have given up on these books had I read them in print, but Joyce Bean lends a strong clear voice to the narrative, making unbelievable situations and characters more tenable. And that's a good thing.