11 June 2009

Forgotten Books: Have you missed Jane Whitefield?

This week's contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books.

When I started using my current database to keep a record of the books that I had read, the first book I recorded in December 2004 was Thomas Perry's VANISHING ACT.

So do you remember Jane Whitefield?
I haven't read the whole series, but I have learnt that after 9 years, there is to be a 6th title.
Here is the list, courtesy Fantastic Fiction:
1. Vanishing Act (1994)
2. Dance for the Dead (1996)
3. Shadow Woman (1997)
4. The Face-Changers (1998)
5. Blood Money (1999)
6. Runner (2009)

Check information from the author about why he has decided to write another - or rather why he didn't continue with the series 9 years ago.

My mini-reviews: - my apologies if I seem to reveal a little too much of the story. At this stage I was the only audience for my cogitations.
I read all 3 in a week or so, so I must have really loved them!

#1 VANISHING ACT, my rating 4.9

A P.I. is stalking a woman named Rhonda Eckerly in the L.A. airport. Her husband, a wealthy sexual sadist, has hired Jack Killigan to bring her back for the punishment she deserves. Killigan follows her through the airport, waits for her outside the ladies room, then attacks and subdues her en route to the car park. As he attempts to restrain her, Rhonda turns on him, beats him half to death, and cuffs his wrists together. "Rhonda" is, of course, Jane Whitefield (the ladies switched clothes and wigs in the ladies room) hired to protect Rhonda, and help her disappear from her brutal husband. Jane, after explaining to the police that she was assaulted for no reason by Killigan, takes her leave of L.A. to return to her quiet home town in upstate New York, near her Seneca Indian roots. This is just the introduction to this non stop action thriller with a unique female lead.
Jane Whitefield is tall and slender, with olive skin and dark hair that reveal her part Seneca ancestry. She helps other people disappear - to vanish without trace under assumed identities.
One day, an ex-cop accountant named John Felker arrives on Jane's doorstep with an introduction from a former "client" and a big problem. Someone has set him up in an embezzlement scheme, and has now sent hit-men after him. Jane agrees to make him disappear; but no sooner has she helped Felker settle into his new life when everyone involved in the relocation scheme begins to turn up dead. This is the point in the story where things get really exciting, eventually culminating in a duel to the death in the middle of the Adirondacks, an area which the author seems to know intimately.
Almost like an earlier version of Kinsey Milhone?? Jake Reinert is the old guy who lives next door - he has known her all of her life. Lots of detail about Indian legend, folklore and history. I found the connections in the story a bit heavy going and didn't quite understand at first how the bits came together. She is a bit fierce. A thriller rather than a mystery? Although there are plenty of puzzles.

#2 DANCE FOR THE DEAD, my rating 5.0

Instead of solving crimes that have already occurred, Jane Whitefield specializes in preventative action. Usually, this means that she helps people to vanish into new identities before they can be murdered or otherwise harmed.
In this book, she has two clients: one needs to appear, one needs to disappear. The first is a little boy who is the heir to millions of dollars; someone wants him declared legally dead before he can appear in court to collect his inheritance. The other is a crooked female banker who went to jail for S&L fraud. She swears that she hasn't stashed away any money from her previous malfeasances; but someone still thinks she's worth hunting down on the off chance. Jane helps produce the boy and hide the banker before realizing that the cases are linked to a criminal conspiracy of startling proportions.
I really enjoyed this one. Jane comes over as a very human person, but she does commit some horrific murders herself. In this one she promises to marry Carey McKinnon in a year's time.

#3 SHADOW WOMAN. my rating 5.0
When her latest client, a Las Vegas gaming executive who has lost the trust of his criminally-connected bosses, asks for help, Jane Whitefield
gets him out of town with a spectacular display of casino magic. Then she keeps her promise, gives up her dangerous trade, marries her loyal doctor, and settles down to live peacefully in upstate New York. As if. Fifty pages into Thomas Perry's third book about Whitefield--who uses a mixture of her Seneca ancestors' wisdom and a lot of modern muscle and computer smarts to make people in danger disappear--her client screws up. Jane's highly developed code of honour makes her leave her bridal bed to rescue him from an eerily psychotic Los Angeles couple who use everything from sex games to attack dogs to track him down.
Jane marries Carey McKinnon and moves to his house.
Really a thriller rather than a mystery. I found the time line of this book a bit unrealistic - she got married almost overnight - Linda and Earl are looking for Hatchett when he has been gone only a few days. However then there are months when Jane and Hatcher are on the run.


gautami tripathy said...

You do increase my knowledge by such posts!


Karen (Euro Crime) said...

I've read these three as well. I loved the first two, especially Vanishing Act but really struggled with #3. I've not picked them up since. I think I have #4 in the TBR and got vaguely interested again when I saw that there was to be a new one.

Kerrie said...

I like giving you more titles to look for Gautami!

Kerrie said...

I think I got enough of them at the time when I read the first 3 so quickly Karen. I'm not sure that I would rate them as highly now, but who knows?

Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm told you'd make a fine candidate for this meme, so I'm nominating you. Let me know if you decide to take part, and I'll link to your post. Thanks.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Kenneth said...

I use wikipedia as a source for all previous works by an author and have found it to be fairly accurate and comprehensive, although some authors particularly new ones are not always included. I checked W. on Thomas Perry and got the same list as above, along with ISBN (not always listed). W tends to highlight individual books which have won awards and sometimes when starting a new author I'll road-test with an award book vs. first in the series.

George said...

Thomas Perry is a sort of "local hero" around here because of the Jane Whitefield books. Perry grew up around here and he occasionally uses Western New York settings that are astonishingly accurate since he now lives in California.

Kerrie said...

Wikipedia relies on contributions Kenneth, so you will find considerable variance between entries. I agree though that it is often a very useful source of information.
I usually check Fantastic Fiction for a list of titles.

Kerrie said...

I've never read anything other than Perry's Jane Whitefield series George, but he has lots of other books too doesn't he? I wasn't entirely convinced with his reasons for why he ceased the series and why he has written another. I wondered if he is trying to recapture a readership he lost.


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