I'm sure I'm in the minority of Woods' fans when I say that I like Will Lee as a character over Stone Barrington, the suave socialite who replaced Lee in later novels. Stone is okay in a movie-star kind of way, but Lee is much more intriguing, and RUN BEFORE THE WIND is where the reader sees Lee as a truly complex character.
That's largely because of the circumstances which Woods had created for Lee. College kid, screwing up in law school, son of a Georgia political bigtimer with his sights on Jimmy Carter, alright let's just say it. Lee comes from a rich and powerful family.
So his decision to shoot off to Europe for a summer to contemplate his college career is the sort of thing a rich kid would do. What happens over there is far from typical.
If you like boats, you might get more out of this story than I did, but in no way is that necessary. It adds an exotic nautical aspect to the suspense, though the suspense does fine on it's own.
Lee is growing up, and that's a big part of the story. Growing up means a lot of things. Taking responsibility where you once ignored it, seeing tasks to their completion, gaining independence, and, this being a Woods novel, some sex of course.
But the casual reader gets what they want. Intrigue, suspicion, and my personal favorite, anticipation. Mark, one of the primary players, is a bit of a mystery until the ultimate end, and I'm still trying to figure out if his resolution was complete.
Maybe that's a good thing. For once Woods slightly strays from convention, the ending not as happy as you might hope it to be and leaving you with a few questions. Questions you hope to be answered in a later novel. Not about Mark, but about Will Lee himself.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Stuart Woods, and Will Lee. Or Willie.