Vanishing Act

Thomas Perry, Author
Thomas Perry, Author Random House (NY) $23 (289p) ISBN 978-0-679-43536-5
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
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Mass Market Paperbound - 351 pages - 978-0-8041-1387-8
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Hardcover - 978-0-517-17150-9
Paperback - 353 pages - 978-1-56895-234-5
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Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61574-556-2
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Perry's sixth novel (after Sleeping Dogs) is a taut thriller that at times reads like an extended, though flawed, character study of its heroine. Jane Whitefield, half-white, half-Indian member of the Seneca Wolf clan, helps people disappear-people like Rhonda Eckerly, fleeing her abusive husband, or Harry Kemple, hoping to stay alive after witnessing a gangland shooting. Like a one-woman witness protection program, Jane has helped both vanish by giving them new identities and new starts at life. Now an alleged new victim has invaded Jane's upstate New York house: John Felker claims that he's a cop-turned-accountant, is being framed as an embezzler and has a contract out on his life. Almost immediately, the men chasing Felker appear, and Jane leads him farther upstate, to a Canadian Indian reservation where he can build a new life. Jane is an original and fascinating creation. Like Andrew Vachss's series hero, Burke, she operates outside the law, but with a particular slant born of her distinct character and Seneca heritage. Perry tells her story in a trim and brisk manner, moreover, with plenty of action and suspense. It takes Jane far longer than it will most readers to figure out that Felker is other than what he says, however, and while her trusting nature, which borders on gullibility, generates tension, it doesn't mesh with her hard-boiled profession and hunter-like wiles. It's only when the truth behind Felker is revealed, and Jane acts decisively on it, that most readers will regain the respect they've lost for this otherwise likable and unusually intriguing heroine. (Jan.)
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