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The buyers find us. Establish their bona fides.
Then, and only then, we run.

Burdon Lane is a businessman living out the American Dream in a shiny suburb of Washington, D.C. His business card lists him as Executive VP of UniArms, Inc., a legitimate arms dealer that's a front for a gunrunning empire. His girlfriend thinks he's a salesman. ...
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Overview: Douglas E. Winter's debut novel blasts into the dark heart of America's culture of guns and violence with breathtaking velocity. Run is a streamlined tour de force of ... full-throttle action and high-tech weaponry, a brilliantly controlled ride through America's most brutal terrain, with a surprising moral message -- fantastically harrowing, relentlessly cinematic, impossible to look away from. "Instantly, I mean from the first paragraph, Run's language jumps off the page and sears itself into the reader's consciousness. I opened the typescript at about ten and found that I had to go on reading it until three in the morning, when I reached the final sentence. I don't think that has ever happened to me before. Original in every way, Run is a masterly redefinition of the crime thriller, one in which Douglas E. Winter has discovered a voice that seems to come up from his heels."-- Peter Straub. 400 pp. All items are packed very well for delivery. Read more Show Less

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2000 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 272 p. Audience: General/trade. Detective and mystery stories; Espionage; Fiction; ... Firearms theft; General; Mystery & Detective; Suspense fiction; United States Read more Show Less

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The buyers find us. Establish their bona fides.
Then, and only then, we run.

Burdon Lane is a businessman living out the American Dream in a shiny suburb of Washington, D.C. His business card lists him as Executive VP of UniArms, Inc., a legitimate arms dealer that's a front for a gunrunning empire. His girlfriend thinks he's a salesman. His best friend thinks he's a role model. His boss thinks he's a good soldier.

This weekend's run should be business as usual — guns for money, money for guns — moving the product north on the Iron Highway from Dirty City to Manhattan. But this weekend is going to teach Burdon something he doesn't yet know about who he is . . . and isn't. When the meet in Manhattan turns into a five-alarm fire and an all-out war on the tenth floor of a New York hotel, there is only one way out: an uneasy alliance with a hard case named Jinx and the street gang known as the U Street Crew. And once the heat is on, with a cadre of killers and every police officer and Federal agent on the eastern seaboard on their tail, Burdon gets the chilling sensation that, one way or another, this so-called milk run may be his last.

This is the story of the last run, the run where no one — criminal, cop, or civilian — is who or what they seem.

Douglas E. Winter's debut novel blasts into the dark heart of America's culture of guns and violence with breathtaking velocity. Run is a streamlined tour de force of full-throttle action and high-tech weaponry, a brilliantly controlled ride through America's most brutal terrain, with a surprising moral message — fantastically harrowing, relentlessly cinematic,impossible to look away from.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Run may be Douglas Winter's first novel, but it is not by any stretch an apprentice work. It is, on the contrary, a mature, fully realized creation and a culminating moment in Winter's varied career as critic (Stephen King: The Art of Darkness), editor (Prime Evil, Revelations), and author of some of the most original short fiction of recent years. It is, in brief, everything Winter's admirers have been hoping for, and a good bit more.

On one level, Run is a thriller set in the arcane world of illegal arms dealers, its plot turning on a high-stakes, guns-for-money deal that goes spectacularly wrong. On a deeper level, it is an unsparing examination of a world on the edge of apocalypse, a world obsessed to the point of lunacy with owning -- and using -- guns. This apocalyptic vision is articulated by Burdon Lane, gunrunner, good soldier, and longtime employee of UniArms, a Virginia-based weapons franchise that Burdon describes as "a factory outlet...for buyers on a budget: Guns R Us."

Burdon, as he himself tells us, is not one of the good guys. But he is a complex, fascinating character, a thoroughgoing professional who goes where he's told and does whatever his job requires without asking inconvenient questions. Still, unlike many of his associates, he has managed to retain some vital ties to the ordinary human world. He is deeply in love with his live-in girl friend, the mysterious, exotic Fiona. He is loyal to his friends, particularly his younger, less experienced partner, Renny (a.k.a. Renny Two Hand). He is haunted by memories of his dead mother and carries her copy of Crime and Punishment (an altogether appropriate account of murder and redemption) wherever he goes. He is haunted, also, by the memory of a colleague who was murdered for committing the one unforgivable crime in Burdon's world: breaking the code of silence.

Winter brings both Burdon and the novel to life with a flawlessly sustained narrative voice that is one of Run's most indelible achievements. That hypnotic voice, with its mixture of tough-guy locutions, rude humor, casual obscenity, and unexpected flashes of poetry, lights up the novel, placing the reader inside the skin of the unfolding narrative and providing Winter with the perfect vehicle for his violent, intricately designed story.

The story begins when Burdon is ordered to ride shotgun on an arms shipment traveling from Alexandria, Virginia, to Manhattan, where a New York City street gang called the 9 Bravos is waiting to take delivery. Against his wishes, Burdon and his partners are accompanied by the U Street Crew, a Washington, D.C., street gang that has entered into an alliance with UniArms, in the interest of what UniArms owner Jules Berenger calls "diversification." The weapons are delivered and the deal is nearly concluded when, in a moment of choreographed violence that turns the novel neatly on its head, an unexpected murder is committed, a murder that is followed by a bloodbath in which almost no one is left alive.

In the aftermath, Burdon makes his way back to Virginia, accompanied by an enigmatic U Street Crew member who goes by the name of Jinx. Their journey south is a violent and eventful one, littered with the corpses of Burdon's friends. The journey -- and the novel -- end together in a masterfully sustained set piece: a fierce, almost surreal pitched battle that takes place, with deliberate irony, in a Catholic church in Alexandria. By the time the smoke clears and the last bullet is fired, Burdon has learned the truth behind the "run" that ended so disastrously. At the same time, he comes to understand, with belated clarity, the nature of the world that he -- and others like him -- is helping to create.

Run is a novel about secrets, about the truths that lie buried beneath the visible surface of events. It is a novel in which almost everyone wears some sort of mask, in which hidden agendas and undisclosed purposes dominate the plot. Most of all, Run is an authentically nightmarish portrait of America as war zone, of America transformed -- through greed, expediency, and an overriding obsession with guns, guns, and more guns -- into a very literal adjunct of Hell. Somewhere along the line, Run crosses an invisible border and becomes not simply a thriller but a meditation on violence, corruption, and damnation and on the opposing, but very real, possibility of personal redemption.

Simply put, Run is an extraordinary debut, a visceral, endlessly fascinating look at a fractured, racially divided, rapidly unraveling society. With confidence, intelligence, and great narrative authority, Winter subverts the conventions of the traditional thriller, using the form to open up a window on the condition of the American soul. The result is a novel that is not to be missed, that is unlike anything you are likely to encounter -- inside the genre or out of it -- for a very long time to come.

--Bill Sheehan

Blue Murder Maqazine
Douglas E. Winter's debut novel blasts into the dark heart of America's culture of guns and violence with breathtaking velocity. Run is a streamlined tour de force of full-throttle action and high tech weaponry, a brilliantly controlled ride through America's most brutal terrain, with a surprising moral message-fantastically harrowing, relentlessly cinematic, impossible to look away from.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Relentlessly paced, this chase novel impressively captures the frantic energy and emotional panic experienced by an East Coast gunrunner forced to flee both his own gang and the law. Written in rough, gritty street vernacular, the story covers about 24 hours in the life of 40-something Burdon Lane, who is part of a large group of criminals transporting a shipment of guns from Washington, D.C., to New York City. Just as the deal is about to go down in a Manhattan tenement, bedlam erupts. As Lane takes cover, his own people start shooting each other, the gun merchants begin killing their own and men dressed in police uniforms but not acting like police mysteriously show up. Meanwhile, somebody assassinates a prominent civil rights leader marching in a parade nearby. When the shooting stops, Lane finds himself in possession of the $2 million intended for the purchase of the guns. He has no idea, however, what has just happened. All he knows is that he must run. Winter sets a torrid tempo for his electric narrative as the plot unfolds. Using cars, trains and his own feet, Lane escapes death time and time again as he makes his way back home to confront his boss about whether the gun deal was merely a diversion in a larger scheme, orchestrated by larger powers, to kill the black political leader. Winter, a noted horror critic and anthologist, has written a memorable debut novel. His otherwise fine outing bogs down only at the end, during a protracted, bloody battle that, for its impact, relies on violence rather than on cunning plot dexterity.
Library Journal
D.C. attorney Winter's first novel is a boring and exceedingly violent short story that seems to have been stretched out to novel length. Narrator Burden Lane, a gun-runner, goes with his best friend and several others on what is supposed to be a routine gun deal. In actuality, though, Lane has been set up in an assassination plot. He goes on the run, not knowing who to trust as he tries to stay alive. Winter's rambling writing style makes it difficult to get involved in the story right away, and his vague descriptions don't help. Even if Quentin Tarrentino and John Woo made a movie together the result wouldn't have come closer to the level of gratuitous violence in this novel. Run far away from Run. Not recommended.-Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.
Alfred A. Knopf
"With Run, Douglas E. Winter puts a battery up in the reader and ups the ante for thriller writers everywhere. Run has the hard, sharklike sheen of a Richard Stark novel and the bullet-riddled kineticism of early John Woo. Plan to stay up half the night." --George P. Pelecanos, author of Shame the Devil
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375408380
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/14/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 259
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 9.65 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas E. Winter is an attorney in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the editor of Prime Evil, a best-selling anthology of horror and suspense fiction. Run is his first novel.
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Read an Excerpt

once upon a time in virginia

So we're shaking down this Dickie Mullen guy, and the guy's your usual suburban shoot-shop owner, talks the talk about home defense and hunting season, spreads out copies of Guns & Ammo and Soldier of Fortune, sells crappy .38s to concerned hubbies and housewives, and all the while he's dressed up in the red, the white, the blue, it's the grand old fucking flag. They're taking away our constitutional rights comes out of this Dickie Mullen guy's mouth about as often as those fine patriotic words We take VISA and MasterCard. This guy couldn't defend a house against cockroaches and he wouldn't know a ten-point buck from a heifer, and right about now he's talking his talk at the lee side of the counter, an overfed gnome with capped teeth and a lame smile, and I really don't want to be here but the numbers didn't add up for the third time in as many months, and this upsets Jules, and the shop's on my beat so this upsets me. But what upsets me more is that this Dickie Mullen guy is talking a Hefty Bag worth of trash about this and about that, he is talking about anything but the numbers and why the numbers didn't add up, and I wish he'd come out and say it. Just look up out of the lies and say:

Hey, all right, okay, I've been skimming here and scamming there, but I need the money, owe the money, got to have the money. I got a wife, I got kids, I got a mortgage, and a little from a lot don't matter, can't matter, just should not matter.

Then he ought to say, and say very loud:

And after all, you are reasonable men.

I look at Trey Costa, who's leaning into a hardwood trophy case at the back of thestoreroom, right under the deer mounts and a rack of lever-action center-fires. Trey slips the sawed-off from under his raincoat, tips the barrel back over his shoulder, and starts cat-scratching its snout against the glass of the trophy case. Screech, screech, boom.

I look at Renny Two Hand, who just told this Dickie Mullen guy, owner and operator of Safari Guns in the Triland Mall in this bright little suburb of Dirty City, that there's no time for new lies. That's when Two Hand shoved the really meaningful part of that wicked Colt Python .357, a nasty handgun if I say so myself, to a spot two inches below the guy's belly button.

And while I'm taking the time to look, I check out myself, courtesy of the mirror behind this Dickie Mullen guy's head: solemn-faced and empty-handed. I do not draw down unless I'm going to shoot, but if looks could kill, dear Safari Guns, with its wondrous selection of overpriced foreign product, Taiwanese knockoffs, and well-oiled calendar girls in camouflage and string bikinis, would be redecorated in red right now.

The look I'm giving this Dickie Mullen guy, the stone-cold thing that looks back at me from the mirror, takes years of practice. If you can fake the sincerity, you're halfway home. So when I try on the face, now and again, I do want to laugh. But today it's there on its own, and I'm not laughing, this is not a laughing matter. Because, after all, there should be no doubt:

We are reasonable men.

Which is why I hit the spineless fuck in the face.

His head snaps back and red spit leaks out from between those too-real teeth. On cue, Renny hoists his pistol from gut level and points it down on this Dickie Mullen guy's dome.

Now that we have his attention, it's time to talk.

Hey, pal, I tell him. I say this one time. So listen up and listen good.

Here's what I tell this Dickie Mullen guy.

I tell him:

You have the right to remain silent.

I tell him:

If you choose to speak, anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.

I tell him:

You have the right to talk to a lawyer before we ask you any questions.

I tell him:

You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning.

I tell him:

If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.

You have all these rights, I tell him. And, if some cop says so, maybe even a few more. But what you don't have, pal, is the right to fuck around with me.

That's when I hit him again. And then I nod, and then Renny cocks the hammer, and then I happen to believe that Dickie's little dickie just pissed his pants.

You got a nice business here, I tell him. And you ought to keep it that way. But hey, you've been selling off the books.

I look down into the display case of pistols and I cannot believe the crap this Dickie Mullen guy is peddling. Just like I cannot believe that Jules Berenger and I are selling it to him.

You want to keep out of trouble, pal. You don't need this shit. If the state cops or the ATF come sniffing round here, then my friend with the gun comes sniffing round here, and sooner or later I have to come and pay you a visit. Not that I don't like a friendly chat now and then, but I'm about done with the talking. So you keep things in order, pal. You sell your stock over the counter and you send in those little forms to Treasury. You know why?

He hesitates, shakes his head: No.

I cannot believe this guy.

Because it's the law, dumb shit. It is the fucking law.

I pass him a handkerchief.

Now wipe your face off.

He looks at the hankie like it's an alien life form. Then he gets the idea and starts mopping down. First the split lip, then the forehead, then he starts on his pants. Guess he gets to keep this one.

You got a wife, right?

Yeah, he says, but when I give him the look he locks eyes with me and says it right: Yes.

You got kids?


And a mortgage?

He looks at me funny but not for long. Then: Yes.

I point to the front door. So, I tell him. You don't open up today. You leave that closed sign hanging there, and you take the rest of the day off and you go home. You tell them all -- the wife, the kids, the mortgage -- that you love them. And then tomorrow -- well, tomorrow you come in here and you turn that sign over to open, and, hey, it's like they say: Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life. You got me?

Yes, he says.

I fucking hope so, I tell him.

But worms like this one never learn. Never. Guy probably cheats on his tax returns, cheats on his wife, maybe even cheats on his poker buddies. Next time this happens, and sooner or later there's gonna be a next time, he's gonna skim a little bit less, he's gonna hide a little bit more, the guy's gonna think he's getting away with something, and you know what?

That's when I'm gonna have to kill him.


one a.m.

Renny Two Hand's in the hot seat, drinking Bud Light out of a bottle and snaking a new cigarette from the battered pack on the bar. Some achy-voiced rock-and-roller, a dead guy, is droning on and on and he's not even in tune with these dentist-drill guitars. Five one-dollar bills are tented on top of the bar, and Two Hand is looking point-blank into the dancer's snatch like there's no tomorrow.

You ever pray? he says.

For what? I ask him, and he just looks right through me and says:

You ever pray?

Shawnee, that's this dancer's name, ha-ha, she lets down that witchy-woman hair, and she works her way over to me, and she wants me. I know she wants me because she smiles, a little sly smile, and then the little wink as she strides on past, high heels clicking in time to the beat. So she wants me. Yeah, right. She wants me to lay a little more green on the bar, and when I do, I get some good old hippy-hippy-shake, and then it's walk on down the line to the next guy, and then the next and the next, still smiling, still winking, still shaking, still wanting. Sweet kid, probably studies psych or sociology at George Mason University and dates a fraternity boy when she isn't giving blow jobs in the alleyway out back.

I'm leaning my head toward Renny Two Hand, trying to imagine what he's really saying to me through a night's worth of cigarette smoke, drugstore aftershave, gutter rock guitar, and the cheap talk of the Dauphine Steak House, and that is when I hear the cough. It's a nasty cough, the kind of cough that sort of stands right up and says: I'm a Glock.

Sitting on my cozy stool, nodding away to the music from the band with the dead guy, minding my own business and a lot of the naked lady who's strutting her stuff atop the bar, trying to think real hard about Bud Light instead of tomorrow, and with that cough in my ear, I realize there's no escaping a simple fact:

Guns are my life.

So I grind out Renny's Chesterfield and take a spin on the bar stool and there's this damn fool backpedaling away from one of the tables out on the dance floor. His chair's tipped over, and he's pushing a Spandex-bursting waitress out of the way with one hand and waving a Glock 19 with the other. Asshole.

Not that I don't like the Glock 19. It's my weapon of choice. Right about now I'm carrying two of them: one out in the glove compartment of my Mustang, the other one tight to the flat of my back, snug in a Bianchi holster.

Nice construction on the Glock. It's the original polymer pistol; some folks, the dumb ones, thought you could walk it through airport security. The G19 is compact, weighs thirty ounces loaded with a fifteen-round magazine, and the trigger pulls as smooth as taffy. Maybe it's just the cough that bothers me. Hearing it when it's not my own. That annoys me. Like shooting one of the Beretta 80s, those little .22s that sort of spit when you squeeze them. Or the MAC-10: On full auto, sounds like a cat pissing.

I used to like my weapons loud. Let's face it, when the shit goes down, so deep that it's time to shoot -- well then, you ought to make a statement. The old Springfield 1911A1, standard-issue Army .45, spoke up with a bull roar, scared the shit out of anybody, anything. Which was helpful, since it's a bitch for anyone but a pro to score hits with old Slab Sides from more than about twenty feet. But that four-five talks like it looks: big and mean. I keep mine in a footlocker, way up in the attic, with a pair of my old fatigues, a picture of my high school sweetheart -- that bitch -- and a map of the provinces. That's where it belongs: put to rest, another buried dream.

Don't even think about it, I tell myself, and then I say it aloud to Renny Two Hand, who's finally fallen out of the beer-and-babe fugue and noticed that something's going down. He looks from the asshole on the dance floor to me and then down to the cuff of his right pants leg, which no doubt hides a heavy something with a barrel and a trigger and, if I know Two Hand, a high-capacity magazine. I snag his jacket, ready to hustle our happy asses to the fire exit and out of this nonsense. Trouble is something you just never need.

So through the huddle comes this well-armed asshole from the outland, Manassas maybe, wearing torn jeans, standard-issue black Metallica T-shirt, a flannel overshirt, and about five too many beers. He shakes his sloppy blond head and slow-dances back into the jukebox. That band with the dead guy -- now I remember, it's called Nirvana -- starts singing in double time. Little wrestling around, then cue the scream. So the asshole's got a Glock. Full magazine, maybe, and he's shot one time. Could be lots of bodies rolled out of the place by Springfield EMS, but that one's beyond Vegas odds; no way he's serious. Drunks are rarely serious about anything but fighting or fucking, and like most drunks this asshole isn't much capable of either.

By now the piece is pointed at the linoleum. The first of the bouncers, a skull-shaven Marine probably moonlighting out of Quantico, makes his appearance, gives him the old okeydokey take-it-easy routine. Hands up, smile and a nod, smile and a nod, one step closer, one step more.

The jarhead gestures to the ceiling and when the asshole looks up -- told you he was an asshole -- the Marine whales him with what the boxing announcers like to call a solid right to the jaw. Down and out for the count. Stick a fork in him, this one's done.

I look over at the table where the commotion started and there's another spud there, another black T-shirt, another flannel shirt, another pair of jeans, and he's looking at his left thigh like it just sprouted an eye and winked at him. He's saying oh momma oh momma and wiping blood back and forth in his hands like it's grease.

I look at my watch, which reads nigh on one in the morning. Last call for blood and alcohol. A black-and-white ought to be wheeling around any minute now. So:

Th-th-that's all, folks.

Ren, I say, let's call it a night.

Yeah, he says. A night.

He pulls back the last of his Bud Light and shrugs himself up off the bar stool. It's hard to believe he can walk.

I drop a fiver on the bar for dearest Shawnee, she shakes her tits at me, and we're gone.

Sucking cold air on the blacktop parking lot, shaking out the smell of cigarettes, I'm taken with one of those Twilight Zone thoughts, and this time it's the idea that, while we were being entertained, the mighty suburb of Springfield, Virginia, slid into a deep black hole. Then I realize the power is out along Backlick Road and its rat maze of mini-malls. And how much I hate the dark.

I steer Renny toward the Mustang. A couple beers, that's all. The age-old promise, man-to-man. So we had a couple beers, did our business, traded the keys, and seven p.m. rolled into nine, and we had a couple beers again, and round about eleven the bottles and the dollar bills formed up ranks on the counter. A nice drunk, until the coughing fit.

I try to remind Renny about Thursday, about why we traded the keys, but he's giving me the Ren routine, hands waving out at nothing in particular, clearing the cobwebs, no doubt searching for the clever exit line. An unshaven and gimp-kneed Shakespearean. All the world's barrooms and parking lots are a stage.

Ah, the smell of blood after midnight, he finally tells me and the parking lot and the black, black sky and the red-and-blue lights of the police car whirlybirding down Franconia Road toward us. It's the smell of --

There isn't a pause; it's a gap. His face goes loose, and he takes a long look back at the Dauphine Steak House like he's left his best friend, which is me, inside. The silence doesn't stop. I stand there until it's just too much.

The smell of . . . what? I ask him.

His face comes back at me, a full moon that shines on with nothingness. Then:

You drive, he tells me. He hooks his fingers into his belt, hoists his jeans, and wobbles on to the car.

That's my partner, Reynolds James -- aka Renny, aka Two Hand, aka The Wrap -- for you: Always starting something but never getting it done.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Douglas E. Winter, author of Run

Run is the stunning, highly audacious debut from Douglas E. Winter, an original, horrifying, masterfully three-dimensional look at the violent world of gunrunning. Filled with wicked surprises, poetic and provocative language, and a diverse cast of characters, Run delivers an intense shipment of thrills and a shocking, eye-opening glance at a sinister reality. In an interview conducted by Thriller editor Andrew LeCount, Winter discusses inner-city violence, the art of illegal gun-pushing, and the way in which a horrible tragedy lit his novel-writing fire. Enjoy acquainting yourself with this exciting new novelist.

B& Run is your debut novel. Did you experience much trepidation while tackling the massive task of novel-writing?

Douglas E. Winter: No, not at all. Run was a joy to write, because I'm passionate about its story, its characters, and its subject. Writing the novel was hard work, but well worth the effort; in fact, it was a kind of redemption.

I had been successful, for several years, in balancing a career as a lawyer with a minor career as a writer -- publishing nonfiction, two anthologies, and short stories -- but that all disappeared with the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 at Detroit, Michigan. One hundred and sixty people were killed; Northwest and its insurer tried to deny responsibility; and I found myself enmeshed in a nightmarish lawsuit that lasted almost a decade, with a 19-month-long jury trial in federal court. My client was vindicated, and Northwest was found wholly at fault. It was the pinnacle of my legal career, but I was devastated, physically and emotionally. Burnout doesn't even begin to approximate the way I felt. And the only way out, I realized, was to write. I'd lost some of the prime years of my life, and it was now or never -- it really was time to write a novel.

The only trepidation came as I neared the end. Was it good enough? Would any publisher really be interested? Because, as you know, it's difficult enough to sell a first novel, but I had taken some definite risks in the story and style of Run.

B& While Run is your first novel, as you mentioned, it is not your first published work (Doug has edited two short-fiction anthologies and has written in the short form himself). But unlike your other fiction experience, which is more on the horror side of things, Run is flat-out thriller. Why the switch in genres? What crime and thriller writers possibly influenced this redirection?

DEW: There really wasn't a change of direction. Generic definitions may be useful in marketing books, but not in writing them. Because as soon as you think you're writing a "kind" of novel, you succumb to the expectations of the genre. And to my mind, horror is an emotion, not a genre -- which is why this fiction embraces novels as diverse as Dracula and Red Dragon, Clive Barker's Sacrament and José Saramago's Blindness. My own short stories are true to this perspective; indeed, most of them are insistently realistic.

My reading habits have never been defined by genre, and I love books that, like Run, blur the lines -- that can be read by fans of thrillers, crime novels, horror novels. But if you're looking for specific writers whom I've admired and whose books seem, to me, antecedents of Run...well, I like to think of Run as the bastard child of David Goodis or Jim Thompson, awakening from a long drunk to the sound of gangsta rap. Meaning that I wanted to wrench noir sensibilities out of the '40s and '50s and into the present -- and, at the same time, to ratchet up the prose, to make this book true to its title: to make something that moved with a speed that hopefully would leave the reader breathless.

B& Now that you've written in both horror and crime, what do you find scarier?

DEW: Reality remains far scarier than anything I've seen in fiction; and generally, fiction that mimes reality is more disturbing -- and appealing -- to me.

The best stories, whether they're thrillers or horror or crime, push beyond the "scary" into a deeper emotional realm, touching you in ways you can't shrug off or laugh away. They move you, and may even change the way you think about the world.

Now I love the scares, and Run has some, to be sure -- those carnival funhouse moments when something leaps unexpectedly at you -- but Run is truly, and insistently, a thriller. My goal was to thrill readers -- to excite them, energize them, compel them to keep turning the pages. And along the way, I hope there are moments when I really do touch you on that deeper level.

B& Where did these wonderful, and at the same time absolutely horrible, characters spring from? How on earth did you research such a thing as illegal gun running (is there such a thing as legal gunrunning?) without getting yourself killed?

DEW: For better or worse, the characters are all from the inside of my head. In fact, in writing about Burdon Lane, I wanted to remind readers that we all have the capacity to do great violence -- and to accomplish great good. Inevitably, some characters find echoes in reality, like Doctor D and the U Street Crew, who are my version of some of D. C.'s more infamous gangsters of the '90s.

Gunrunning, on the other hand, is by no means imaginary. And yes, there is "legal" gunrunning, in the sense that the United States has championed an international weapons trade for years. During the Reagan/Bush administration, we were exporting $100 billion in armaments every year -- to our allies, some of whom then became our enemies. Some of those sales involved weapons that were supplied surreptitiously to rebels and insurgents.

Domestic gunrunning, which is the focus of Run, is illegal and, of course, a very real problem for law enforcement and public safety. I spent a lot of time investigating the techniques and tradecraft of gunrunning, and I had many sources, inside and outside of the law. The Alexandria, Virginia, Police Department was very helpful, and I also spoke with former FBI and Secret Service agents, the ATF, folks in the gun business and in the pro- and anti-gun lobbies. But some of my best research came in using my imagination, gathering the facts and then filling in the cracks by putting myself into the mindset of my characters, trying to understand how these schemes really work on the street.

B& Before we get ahead of ourselves, what, exactly, is gunrunning?

DEW: It's a crime as exact as drugrunning -- meaning that it's difficult to define because it comes in so many shapes and sizes. Basically it's the movement of a weapon into a jurisdiction where that weapon is illegal. It takes place constantly in the United States, because gun laws differ from state to state, creating market opportunities for criminal entrepreneurs.

Run covers diverse kinds of gunrunning, from petty crime -- like moving a handgun across the Potomac River from Virginia into Washington, D. C. -- to more elaborate sales of assault rifles, machine pistols, exotic weapons.

The "run" at the center of the novel is the sale of some "top notch iron" to a New York street gang known as the 9 Bravos. Burdon Lane works for UniArms, Inc., a legitimate arms dealer that is the perfect facade for a gunrunning empire. But UniArms is white and suburban, and to make this deal work, Burdon's boss cuts a deal with a notorious D.C. gang -- the U Street Crew -- to provide protection during the delivery. The alliance is doomed, of course; and when it unravels in Manhattan, Burdon finds himself on a very different kind of run.

B& Did you worry at all about writing a novel in which so few of the characters are sympathetic? Or was it the challenge of getting readers to sympathize with an unsympathetic character that attracted you?

DEW: I wanted, more than anything else, to invert the usual style of the police procedural and the P. I. novel and the serial killer novel and so many other novels that position the reader with the authority figures who solve the crime. I thought readers would enjoy a story that was told from the inside out. So I take you into the criminal underworld, and we see everything from the perspective of a hardened criminal -- who, at first, does not seem likable. And that's a risk, because some people think you need to have a sympathetic character from page one.

Obviously, I disagree. I think you have to have an interesting character from page one; someone who engages the reader. And I loved the challenge of creating Burdon Lane. He tells you, from the get-go, that he's not the good guy, and yet he's charismatic enough -- and ultimately sympathetic enough -- that readers want to turn the page, to find out what happens next.

B& Run is written in a very unique and audacious style (for those who have yet to read it, it's like Burdon Lane -- our narrator -- is sitting in your living room relating the insanity; everything the reader learns is direct from Lane's lips to your ears). What provoked you to use this original -- and very interesting, I might add -- first person voice?

DEW: Two things: I wanted to write a book with a voice and attitude that were different. If I was going to spend years writing a novel on the speculation that one day someone might publish it, I wanted to write a novel that was mine, that wasn't just another lawyer novel, or just another mystery novel or horror novel -- so I really did strive for originality in the story and the style and the voice.

There was also something very liberating, and almost hypnotic, about the voice of Burdon Lane and about this way of telling a story. Because it's very direct and fast-moving -- but it's also very honest. Even when Burdon says or thinks things that are impolite -- and, indeed, repugnant -- the reader sees that this is his humanity. That he is world-weary, he is angry, he is violent, he is bigoted -- because we all have these feelings. So readers understand his humanity, and they see through his bravado and bluster and into his pained heart. Because we're all like Burdon Lane in so many ways -- and we all have that same choice between damnation and redemption.

B& In this game of gunrunning, the players don excellent nicknames: Renny Two Hand, Jinx, Doctor D, CK (stands for cop killer, not Calvin Klein)...the list goes on and on. Are these names products of your imagination? In a related question, how were you to so convincingly "get down" with the gunrunnin', street-talkin' lingo?

DEW: The names were mine, although some are drawn from the street and the world of hip-hop. (The 9 Bravos and the U Street Crew are imaginary, but the other gangs, like the 1-5 Mob and the Stanton Terrace Crew, are real.) And the language, too, echoes out of what I hear on the street, in bars, in courtrooms, in police stations and gun shops -- and in rap, which has some of that brash belligerence I wanted to put into Burdon's voice.

I love to listen. I love the way that conversation is free-form poetry, with very individual rhythms. So many novels present dialogue in an artificial and stilted way. Characters speak in similar, if not identical, voices; they speak in complete, grammatically correct sentences; they never interrupt each other; they always say what they really mean -- things none of us does in real life.

Writers like George V. Higgins and Elmore Leonard taught me that nothing -- and I mean nothing -- brings more life to a character than the way in which he or she speaks. But so many novelists spend their time describing the shape of someone's nose, the color of their hair, the cut of their clothing -- and when they're finished, we have a nice picture of the character; but that's all it is, a picture.

Characters come to life in their thoughts and words and deeds. It doesn't matter whether Hannibal Lecter's nose is pudgy or aquiline; it's his sense of smell, and the way he talks about it, that's compelling. Clarice Starling is alive whether she looks like Jodie Foster or Julianne Moore.

So when you read Run, you don't ever learn the shape of Burdon Lane's nose or the color of his eyes, but you know him. Oh, do you know him.

B& How readily are guns available in today's world? As your novel suggests, can anyone with a truckload of cash get his hands on pretty much any weapon he desires?

DEW: It doesn't take a truckload of cash -- more like $50 and a phone call, if you know the right person. One reason is that there is more than one handgun or shoulder weapon out there for every man, woman, and child in the United States. And it's easier to buy a gun than to buy a car: You don't need an operator's license or insurance, and in certain contexts you don't need a background check or registration -- you just need cash. And those are legal purchases.

Inevitably, our haphazard system of gun legislation, in which the states and localities have traditionally set the standards for gun ownership, has helped create a market for gunrunning. Thus, Washington, D.C., has some of the most rigorous gun laws in the country; but it's bordered by Maryland and Virginia, which have had far less rigorous laws. So it's nirvana for gunrunners.

B& While researching Run, did you uncover evidence that gang-related violence in our nation's big cities is on the decline? Or did your research suggest gloomier prospects? Lately it seems that most violence -- or at least the violence that is deemed newsworthy -- is sprouting from suburbia.

DEW: Unfortunately, violence in America is so mundane that many murders are no longer "newsworthy." Crimes that tweak the fear or xenophobia of television viewers and newspaper readers are the ones given prominent coverage. So if there's a gun crime in the inner city, it's a blink of the media eye; but if there's a carjacking at the fashionable suburban shopping mall, it's going to be stared at for a week.

According to the FBI, gang-related violence is declining as a direct result of the economic upswing -- after all, crime indicators are often (but not always) linked to economic indicators. It's also the result of more effective law enforcement and community action, in terms of understanding and confronting the economic and social roots of gang activity.

In Run, I wanted to show the collision of the urban and the suburban, and the way in which violence and crime are exported from one to the other. But all too often, the reality of crime is that we visit it on ourselves: For the most part, it's white-on-white, black-on-black, spouse-on-spouse, family member on family member.

B& Kirkus Reviews (for those unfamiliar, Kirkus is one of the publishing industry's major review forums) wrote in their piece on Run: "Winter will have a tough time topping himself." How do you respond to that? Do you have a second novel in the works?

DEW: It's a great compliment. And obviously, it's a challenge. But that's what writing books is all about, at least for me.

I'm working away on a second novel. It's impossible to replicate Run -- and that doesn't interest me, anyway. What interests me is telling stories in new ways, and in exciting readers, thrilling them. I told my publisher that my motto is to "unexpect the expected" -- and that's what Run, and the new novel, are all about ...about going places where, just when you think you know the answer, I change the question.

B& A million thanks for answering our questions, Doug. Congratulations on a wonderful, thought-provoking, and exciting piece of work.

DEW: Thanks for your kind words. It was a pleasure to visit with you and with all the readers on the site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2013

    This is a book, along with Thomas Perry's "Butcher's Boy&qu

    This is a book, along with Thomas Perry's "Butcher's Boy" and "Sleeping Dogs," I always make sure I keep a backup copy of before lending out. So glad it is now in ebook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2004

    Embarrassing drivel

    Pointless and badly written I found the story only vaguely engaging and the characters boring and flat. In a word: garbage.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2004


    I just got this book for X-mas. Started to Read it and the plot pulled me in. I loved it. I would Read it again. This book started me reading again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2004

    Brilliant, poetic, original

    The pace of this book is ruthlessly fast. Winter lets the story and its characters carry itself (at a good clip), putting aside the dull exposition that litters most contemporary thrillers. It withstands multiple close readings as well as any classic, and is full of moments of truth, as when Lane, toward the end of the book, stands on his suburban street and yells, 'I am your neighbor. I am your f***ing neighbor.' It takes a while for that to sink in, but once it does it reveals the complexity and depth of this brilliant novel. These gun-wielding characters are not detached fabrications--they are the the kind of people with whom all Americans share a country, a culture, a neighborhood. Winter tries to get every word right, rather than resorting to the kind of hit-or-miss bombardment of verbiage of much contemporary literary fiction. This really is a book not to be missed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2003

    Derivative and dull

    Leaving aside the technical irritations of no punctuation for speech I found this book to be cliched and pointless. The plot, if you can call it that, was really substandard and the characters two dimensional. Not worth the money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2003

    18 year old who loves this book

    Wow! What else can I say. The unique style of writting that Winter uses is amazing and drew me into the story even more. Winter knows just how to piece action and dialogue together so that the reader is still left wanting more at any moment. The action scenes were the most amazing bits of literature that I had read in a long time. I tip my at to Winter and i look forward o reading more by him soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2001


    When I tell my friends about RUN, I tell them it's very Tarontino-esque, but it's so much more. Burdon Lane is your ultimate anti-hero and you can't help but root for him from the very start. Winter's pace is breakneck and the twists are unseen, I can't wait til his next novel. I urge anyone who likes a gritty, urban thriller to pick up this book-you won't be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2001

    Outstanding debut novel

    this was a well written and exciting book, as the main charachter says ' by now you've figured out that I am not the good guy' well that may be true but I can guarantee you will be rooting for him any way!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2001

    Well, the other people have said it all...

    I love this book. I love the language, the style Winter uses. After reading Run, every other book seemed dull, too factual and too formal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2001


    I primarily know Douglas E. Winter as one of the first people to write a biography of Stephen King back during the eighties and also as the editor of PRIME EVIL (a collection of short stories by some of the leading ¿horror¿ writers of the eighties, featuring Stephen King¿s ¿Nightflyer¿) Now, with his first novel, RUN, Mr. Winter clearly demonstrates his ability to write a successful, in-your-face thriller that not only entertains, but leaves the reader lying on the floor, totally exhausted from the adrenaline rush, feeling as though he/she has just run the fastest mile in history. Whew is all I can say! RUN is the story of Burdon Lane, a Vietnam vet who has a wonderful home, a fabulous girlfriend, and works as a professional arms dealer for UniArms of Alexandria, Virginia. It seems that UniArms is a legitimate cover for its owner, Jules Berenger, a man who understands that the real money is in the illegitimate selling of weapons to whomever has the cash. When Lane is asked to help broker an illegitimate arms deal to the 9 Bravos¿a bunch of New York City gangbangers¿he gets a very bad feeling about the whole situation. Berenger has arranged for a Washington D.C. gang (the U Street Crew) to act as protection for the UniArms people when they meet with the 9 Bravos. Lane¿s instincts, however, are correct. The arms deal is nothing but a setup for something much, much bigger, and Lane is one of the people designed to take a fall for what transpires. It isn¿t long before he¿s running for his life. The Feds are after him, along with the police, his own people from UniArms, and the two gangs. Lane doesn't know who to trust;but, if he can survive for the next twenty-four hours, he may have a chance at living to a ripe old age, unless he decides to do something stupid like take his Glock 19s and go after the men who set him up to die. RUN is like the Japanese ¿Bullet¿ train, speeding by at a 120 miles an hour. Once you get on for the ride, there¿s no getting off till the last page is turned. The character of Burdon Lane, though not your ordinary hero, does have his own code of honor and is certainly loyal to his friends. This doesn¿t mean that he¿s the good guy. Lane is a killer, and you definitely don¿t want to be standing in his way when he comes barreling down the highway looking for revenge and total annihilation. The rest of the main characters (Fiona, Jinx, CK, Daddy D and Jules Berenger) are also cleverly drawn. They each add to the plot, as well as to the story¿s pacing. A number of surprising twists and turns let the reader know rather quickly that no one is quite what they appear to be. I want to point out that this is a violent novel with a high kill ratio, but it also has a strong message with regards to what the availability of guns is doing to our country. Finally, I should also add that Mr. Winter has an unusual style of writing that takes several pages of reading to get used to. For some peculiar reason the author doesn¿t like to put quotation marks around the dialogue. At times it can be a little confusing to the reader, but it¿s a small price to pay for a novel of this caliber. I highly recommend RUN to all who enjoy an extremely fast-paced thriller, and I hope it won¿t be long before Mr. Winter writes another book of equal excitement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2000

    a great read

    What a great book. I thought the odd way he wrote this in the first person would eventually do me in, but i ended up loving it. It was so crisp and snappy. It was very unique in the way it was written and i thought that it was a pretty origional story. The end had twists that really took me by surprise. This is a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2000

    I don't like violence

    I don't read horror novels. I don't enjoy slasher flicks. I read classics and the occasional fantasy. But Run is the best book I've read in years. There's not much to say in a review. The excerpts don't do the book justice. I work in a library and happened to pick up the advance reader's edition before I closed on New Year's Eve. I missed the party. I won't deviate with much commentary on how effective the Winter's modulations on the perspective are. (He adapts to stream of consciousness so subtly that I missed the transition. All I knew was that when reached the end of the chapter, my hand was shaking. The scene with the train, you'll understand after you read it.) He's the next Faulkner. He disturbed me, but held my attention. So I'm not a professional critic. Douglas Winter is. This won't end up on the back of a later paperback, but I don't care. I'm not even encouraging yanyoneou to buy it yet. That's what libraries are for. Find this one. It's

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2000


    Douglas E. Winter has written on of the most memorable thrillers in years. The plot comes at you with breakneck speed and the author's stream-of-consciousness narative will intstantly transport you into Burdon Lane's world gun-running, violence, and double-dealing. What Winter has done is elevate the hardboiled novel to a whole new level. Fans of Elmore Leonard, Andrew Vachss, and James Elroy will consume this novel like the feast of mind and soul that it truly is, for while violence, death, and deceit are the elements that tumble out of control in Burdon Lane's life it is ultimately his humanity of this self-admitted 'bad guy' that redeems him. You will remember Run for a long long time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2000

    Magnum-force Fiction

    'Run' by Doug Winter is an action-packed gun fest of the highest caliber. A noted horror critic, editor of horror anthologies and a writer of short fiction, Winter makes a big, bloody splash with his first novel. Written in the pared-down syle of next-generation 'Dutch' Leonard, 'Run' will leave you gasping for your second wind as you sprint along to the slam-bang end. I would love to see the author turn his creative energies back to his roots and write a horror novel next. I have the feeling he could inject new blood into the anemic genre of dark ficion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2000

    A very entertaining thriller!

    I have to admit that when I first saw this book, I had no interest to read it. I started it one night when I had nothing else to read and was immediately hooked. The writing style is different from anything else I've ever read. This is one of those books that grabs you at page 1 and doesn't let you go until the very end. When you do finally get to the end, you wish there were more to read. I'm very glad I decided to read this book and hope you decide to give it a try as well. Hopefully, like me, you won't be disappointed.

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