Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Left-Handed Twin - Thomas Perry


As I’ve learned from experience, beginning a series with one of its later books is always a bit of a gamble for a reader. There is just so much backstory already out there that the new-to-the-series reader may experience the novel completely differently than veteran series readers will experience it. And that is never a good thing. Some authors do a better job than others in catching a new reader up with at least the basic backstory, however, and Thomas Perry turns out to be one of those with that skill. This means that The Left-Handed Twin can be enjoyed as a standalone by new readers as well as the latest addition (the ninth) in the Jane Whitefield series. 


Jane Whitefield has a very special skill, and she is good at it. She can keep “runners” alive long enough to make them disappear forever. Not only does Jane create new identities for them, she teaches her runners the skills they will need to remain hidden for the rest of their lives. She helps them find new jobs, leaves them with enough cash to get started, and vows to carry their secrets with her to her deathbed. She has, in fact, sworn an oath to the runners and herself that she will die before allowing herself to be forced to reveal any of the new identities she has created. 


But despite having successfully relocated over 100 people now, Jane has a life of her own. She’s married to a successful doctor, a man who has learned to live with Jane’s occasional sudden disappearances from his own life despite his fear that one day she may disappear for good. So when Dr. Carey McKinnon comes home one evening to find that Jane has prepared a special evening at home for the two of them, he knows that she is going to be leaving their western New York home again sometime before the night is over.


This time, it is a young Los Angeles woman whose boyfriend has been found innocent in a murder trial despite the woman’s eyewitness testimony against him who desperately needs Jane’s help. The man wants the woman dead — and Jane refuses to let that happen. It all seems fairly routine to Jane right up to the point that the boyfriend manages to hire the Russian crime brotherhood to help him find Sara and bring her back to him for disposal. But why would an organized crime group as powerful as this one want to help a nobody like Sara’s boyfriend?


It turns out that Jane is a very valuable commodity to the Russian mobsters. They plan to capture her alive and force her to reveal the new identities of all the people she has helped hide over the years. And they plan to make millions of dollars by selling Janes runners, one-by-one, back to the people still wanting to get their hands on them. It is not the first time that a chaser has figured out that Jane is much more valuable than the people she helps, so when she learns that the Russians are after her, Jan knows that this is a whole new ballgame. And the real chase is on.


The Left-Handed Twin is a terrific chase thriller that winds its way through several cities of the Northeast before Jane decides to put her outdoor fitness skills to use by leading four Russians on a trek across the roughest part of the Appalachian Trail, a deserted 100-mile stretch known as Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness. Jane plans to walk out of there alone — or die trying.


Bottom Line: Thomas Perry’s Jane Whitefield character is an interesting one. She is a direct descendent of Seneca warriors and she sees her role in life as one she shares with her ancestors. By now, Jane is a veteran of her chosen profession, but she may be in more real danger now than at any time of her life. That’s something I want to learn more about, so now I’ll be turning to the earlier books in the series to “continue” the Jane Whitefield story.


Thomas Perry


8 comments:

  1. I've put this whole series on my TBR list. Jane and her unique job really intrigue me. I'm glad to know that I don't necessarily have to read all the books in order to enjoy them. (Though I probably will.)

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    1. Perry does a pretty job of that, and I feel that I know a lot about Jane's past even from reading just this one book. But I'd love to see her as a college student when she was learning how to do this while working as a skip-tracer, so I'm going to have to read some of the earlier books for sure.

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  2. This sounds like another Perry book I'd be interested in. I love when an author provides enough background so you can go in at any point. I found that to be mostly true of Louise Penny as well.

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    1. I think that Perry, in this one at least, did even a better job than Penny does, but his books are a lot less complicated in the long run than hers, and that makes it easier for him to accomplish this.

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  3. I have this one, but I'm waiting to start it until I've caught up with the series. Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. It's good, and I did enjoy it. I'm wondering a little bit if all the books follow the same "chase thriller" style, though. Too much of that might grow a little stale.

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  4. Sounds like an exciting series. Perry really is an excellent writer so it's not surprising that he would be able to catch his readers up on the action without missing a beat,

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    1. Perry is really good, no doubt. I'm curious now about going back and finding the first book in the series to see how it compares to this one. As usual, it's a matter of finding the time for it with so much stuff already lined up.

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