Pros: clear-cut lines between good and evil, and the good guy wins
Cons: not a novel for the faint-hearted
Jane Whitefield was doing what Jane Whitefield does, and then everything went pear-shaped.
Let’s back up a beat: just moments ago, Jane Whitefield broke James Shelby out of prison – out of the L A County Courthouse, to be precise.
Still farther? Jane Whitefield is a guide; a sort of one-woman unofficial Witness Protection Program. It’s her mission in life to rescue people from other people who intend to kill them. James Shelby was framed for the murder of his wife, but once he was in prison her real killer tried to make him dead, too. So Jane springs Shelby, her latest “runner”: that’s when the fake cops grab her. They’re already looking for Shelby, and Jane just happens to be in the wrong place at the right time. That’s not normal for Jane Whitefield, believe you me.
Three days later Whitefield, now sporting a bullet hole and the bruises and burns resulting from three days of torture, reunites with Shelby. Her abductors and their boss, however, are waiting for them just up the road – and what they have planned for Jane will make that first three-day stay with them seem like a long weekend at Club Med – but only if everything works as planned.
What they don’t seem to realize is that Jane Whitefield is an expert at messing up other peoples’ plans…
The seventh novel in the Jane Whitefield series (following Runner, 2009), Poison Flower finds Thomas Perry’s always feisty heroine in dire straits – OK, in straits that are even more dire than usual. When Whitefield married and “retired” at the close of Blood Money (2000), fans of the series figured the half-Seneca guide had taken her last runner to safety. Nine years later, she found herself reluctantly pulled back into “the biz,” and her surgeon husband Carey has since learned not to expect her for dinner every night.
Perry’s heroine is good at what she does – damned good – and as a result, she’s made some mortal enemies. They may not know her name, but they know who she is and what she’s “done to them” (spiriting away potential victims before they can be tortured and/or killed). The chief bad guy after Shelby knows he has an asset with Jane in his custody, and the guy apparently shops on eBay.
Perry has never been an author who writes in shades of gray. For example, Whitefield won't take on a runner unless she’s convinced he’s innocent (though she can be fooled…). So you should always expect a Whitefield novel to have sharply-defined lines between good and evil, and Poison Flower is no exception to the rule. Realize, of course, that no installments in this series could ever be confused with a “cozy’: Jane’s a whole world closer to Rambo than to Hannah Swensen
In fact, you might be well-advised not to eat anything coming from Jane Whitefield’s kitchen…
Be prepared for more than one violent, even disturbing scene in Poison Flower, which is par for the course for Perry. Be prepared as well for non-stop action and a heroine who would very likely take James Bond two falls out of three. Yeah: she’s that tough (and beautiful, too…)