Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the disappearance of Pete Hatcher during a Las Vegas magic show to the satisfying denouement, Perry's third Jane Whitefield thriller (following Dance for the Dead, 1996) delivers in full: a well-paced and complex plot, intriguing characters (including a chillingly psychotic couple who make a living as killers) and enough suspense to keep the pages turning all day on the beach or late into the night. Whitefield, of Seneca Indian descent, is a "guide" who helps people disappear from their current troubled lives into new ones free of whatever dangers are dogging them. She gives them new identities, new locations and then returns to her own safely hidden home base. But in helping Pete, a Pleasure Inc. Casino bigwig distrusted by his bosses, Jane is up against Earl and Linda Thompson, crazy, ruthless and competent assassins. When they pick up Pete's trail, Jane must snatch him away again. Linda and Earl are relentless in their pursuit, tracking Pete and Jane and backtracking to threaten Jane at her home base. Perry's accounts of assuming a new identity or hiding in plain sight, and of learning to break old habits so as not to give yourself away are fascinating. Linda and Earl's countermoves are terrifying in equal measure. From big city to small town and into the wilds of Montana, Perry leads his readers on a galvanizing chase along a twisting, thrilling course. (July) FYI: Random has contracted with Perry for four more Whitefield thrillers to be written over the next four years.
In this third Jane Whitefield mystery, a part-Native woman engineers the "disappearance" of Peter Hatcher from his old life at Pleasure, Inc., a gambling casino. But the casino's honchos think Pete knows too much about their expansion plans and hire a brutally vicious hit team to find, and assassinate, him. The elements of the previous mysteries (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead) are here, but they don't work quite as well this time around. The chases are more predictable, and the lead characters a little too stilted, especially Jane, who plans to give up her "career" and disappear into marriage as the wife of physician/lover Carey McKinnon. Is this Whitefield's last outing? Perry's qualities as a novelist shine in such Elmore Leonard-esque thrillers as Metzger's Dog. For series fans.
Marriage doesn't stop Jane Whitefield (Dance for the Dead, 1996, etc.) from taking on one last hazardous disappearing act for a client whose pursuers just won't give up.
As part of her agreement to tie the knot with her longtime suitor Dr. Carey McKinnon, Jane promises she'll stop helping people to vanish. All she wants is to fade into the woodworkwhich is precisely how she thought she'd already helped Pete Hatcher, the Las Vegas bagman who knew too much about the shady doings of his bosses at Pleasure, Inc. But Hatcher, a sociable fellow who can't resist the ladies, hasn't been able to adapt to the monklike identity Jane created for him in Denver; a few careless moves, and Pleasure's hired killers are onto him. And these aren't ordinary killers: Earl Bliss gets off on tracking and killing people, and his partner, Linda Thompson, keeps up her energy level by inventing erotic fantasies in which she watches Earl kill men she's gotten involved with. When they fail to take out Hatcher, he puts in a frantic call to Janewho leaves Carey waiting in the old homestead while she goes on the road this one last time. So while Jane's spiriting Hatcher out of Denver and Earl is hustling to pick up her trailwhich will lead to a bravura chase on foot through Glacier National ParkLinda takes the search to Jane's home turf by following her paper trail to upstate New York, introducing herself to lonely Carey, and mining Jane's house for every clue she can scrounge about her quarry's current whereaboutsa job made all too easy by the fact that well-meaning Carey hasn't a clue about how to keep a life-or- death secret.
Jane's third adventure is another masterfully inverted detective storyyou root for the prey instead of the murderous investigators. The suspense is unrelenting.
From the Publisher
"A well-paced and complex plot.... Perry leads his [audience] on a galvanizing chase along a twisting, thrilling course." Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Read an Excerpt
Pete Hatcher pushed through the warm, dry night air that was trapped between the tall hotels and casinos, feeling the stored heat from the sun still rising from the concrete to his ankles. He had tightened his back muscles to keep his spine straight and his shoulders back, but it felt like a pose, so he tried to lose his self-consciousness and slouch a little. It was hard to do anything for so many days without ruminating on the way it must look, what they must think about it. He had tried to look formidable and alert, as though he would be hard to kill. The idea was worse than childish. It was the reaction of an animal trying to convince a predator that he wasn't weak enough to take down just yet.
The part of Las Vegas that he loved was the Strip, with the exaggerated shapes of its giant buildings lit up in candy colors that burned against the blue-black desert sky, but being downtown like this was different. The carnival neons and incan-descents glared from all sides and bounced off asphalt and concrete, then washed across the faces of the people walking with him as a dead yellow-gray that cast deep shadows in their wrinkles and sunken eyes.
He followed a couple who seemed to sense it. Each eyed the other and the woman became uncomfortably aware that the ghastly light that had skinned the life from her beloved's cheek must have done the same to her own. She bravely forced a smile that only gave her face deeper hollows and the bared teeth of a skull. The pair reached the roofed-over mall, re-treated to the nearest glass door, and escaped into the soft blue of a bar lit with the twinkle of tiny star-white bulbs. When they had taken a few steps into the cool, machine-madeair, Pete saw them both give a little shrug-and-shudder to be sure none of the leftover street magic was clinging to them.
Hatcher followed them through the bar into the big casino, then skirted the margin of the gaming floor, ignoring the din of the bells on the slots and the rattle of coins in the collection pans that bounced off the walls above his head to excite the customers. He moved deeper, staying far from the blackjack tables and crap tables, where bright overhead lights shone on the green felt and turned the dealers' starched white shirts into semaphores. He stepped to the little window in the wall a few feet apart from the cashiers' cages.
He said to the middle-aged woman behind the glass, "There was supposed to be a ticket for the midnight show left for me."
"Your name, sir?" He had somehow assumed she would know his face, but her expression was only attentive.
Hatcher took the ticket and read the seat number while he was still in the light, then handed it to the girl in the fishnet tights and frock coat at the door and let her lead him into the show. Hatcher never looked back to see whether the two men were still following. They were.
The round walls of the room were lined with big plush booths in three tiers, and the space in front of the stage crowded with rows of long, narrow tables arranged like the spokes of a wheel so nobody in the cheap stackable chairs along them could see better than anybody else.
The woman he had been told to call Jane was already seated in the dark booth when he got there. She was thin, with gleaming black hair braided behind her head, a long, graceful neck, and bare shoulders that showed no trace of a line in the tan and made him want to believe that she was in the habit of sunbathing naked. He felt an unexpected, tearing pain when he looked at her, so he glanced at the stage. This was what he was about to lose--not the money or the fancy office or the clean, hot desert air. It was the women, ones like her. They weren't ever from here, but this was where Pete had always found them. It was as though they were the winners of some quiet beauty contest, judged not by a bunch of potbellied Chamber of Commerce types but by the women themselves, before they were even women. They seemed to take one look in the mirror and know that the creature looking back at them didn't belong in Biloxi or Minneapolis.