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Runaway Heart: A Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

Stephen J. Cannell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 16 2004
When The Science Exists...
Behind the impenetrable walls of a black-op government laboratory a top-secret weapon is being developed-a genetically engineered animal with superhuman strength and speed. It thinks. It obeys. It kills without conscience.

And The Danger Is Real...
Lost-cause attorney Herman Strockmire and his daughter Susan are passionate advocates against corporate Goliaths. When one of their employees is literally torn limb from limb by one of the government's experimental prototypes, Herman knows he is onto something big.

Survival Is Not An Option.
Hired to dig deeper into the employee's death, jaded PI Jack Wirta is a man with little left to lose. Armed with nothing more than determination, Herman, Susan, and Jack plunge headlong into harm's way, stumbling upon a nightmare beyond all imagining.

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From Publishers Weekly

Cannell's second novel in six months (after Hollywood Tough) is a cop thriller with a futuristic, sci-fi twist. Hollywood Tough's heroes, LAPD officers Shane Scully and his wife, Alexa Hamilton, take a backseat to a new protagonist, fledgling PI Jack Wirta, a hard-nosed ex-cop (former partner of Scully) who left the force on disability. Irascible and jaded, Wirta has been hooked on Percocet since taking a bullet in the spine during a bank robbery shootout. He is called in to help the eccentric, crusading attorney Herman Strockmeyer, founder of the Institute for Planetary Justice. Strockmeyer has dedicated his professional life to pursuing corrupt corporations and various wings of the government. A houseguest of Barbra Streisand's in L.A., Strockmeyer is suing the USDA, EPA, FDA and others to get an injunction against planting genetically engineered corn, which threatens the Monarch butterfly population. When Strockmeyer's assistant hacks into the computer bank of Gen-A-Tech, a prime contractor in the genetic engineering of agricultural products, he uncovers something much more horrifying than dead butterflies: the Feds are creating a vicious manlike creature to replace human soldiers in combat. And when the assistant is murdered, Strockmeyer and his daughter look to Wirta to save the day. Cannell has a genius for creating memorable characters and quirky, gripping plots. Despite overwriting and jerky pacing, this is a fun read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Herman J. Strockmire is a lawyer with the heart of Don Quixote. His caseload might be better characterized as a lost-cause load. Here he's battling for the survival of the monarch butterfly, which is on the verge of extinction thanks to a reaction to genetically altered foods. Assisting him in the case are his daughter, Susan, and computer hacker Roland Minton. When Minton is brutally murdered after a surreptitious assault on the data systems of Gen-a-Tec, a firm specializing in genetic research for the government, Herman hires private eye Jack Wirta to dig deeper. Armed with little more than determination to see justice done, Herman, Susan, and Jack find themselves squared off against the worst elements of American industry and the U.S. military. Cannell, one of the most successful television producers of all time as well as the best-selling author of the Shane Scully thrillers, creates memorably endearing characters and places them in harrowing situations with clearly defined moral choices. Strockmire is one of his best. Between battling the military-industrial forces of evil, he copes with an irregular heartbeat, kvetches over Susan and Jack's blossoming relationship, and summons the wherewithal to help Jack with his drug addiction. Too many thriller heroes carry Glocks and boast six-pack abs and dangerously high testosterone levels. Herman has a conscience and a disorganized briefcase. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Herman Strockmire Jr., attorney at law, got his fourth severe ventricular arrhythmia at 7:45 Tuesday morning while riding up to his borrowed office on the thirtieth floor of the Century City high-rise. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This parabellum bullet really hurts, bubala! Dec 21 2003
Herman Strockmire is a plaintiff's lawyer, litigating on behalf of all of the clients who can't protect themselves. Ludicrous at first but really, isn't that what we were supposed to believe lawyers would do as in Harper Lee's Atticus Finch? So I'm not sure that Herman is the anomoly. I have come to believe the rest of the profession took the fork in the road, not Herman.
In any event, he is now prosecuting a case on behalf of the Monarch Butterfly, soon to be exiled to the same dusty books as the dinosaur because of the government's genetic alteration of food. They're killing the butterflys, man!
But that's not all. As Herman and his lovely daughter Susan probe deeper, bodies start turning up. Not with a simple K-bar wound to the thoracic cavity or a Glock shot to the head, but ripped up bodies. Super human strength MOs. Could it be that the evil doers in the monarch butterfly case are into slightly more than genetically altering just food?
Enter Jack Wirta, sullen, despondent, wise-cracking, friend of Shane Scully, wounded and left on the hill like a malnourished Spartan child in 350 B.C., who has started his own detective agency. And guess who is his first client?
This is great Stephen Cannell! It's part Michael Crichton, part Robert Crais. But most of all it's part Rockford Files, the A-Team and Wiseguy. And why not? Mr. Cannell wrote those scripts.
We see references to Barbra and Jim, and of course Ted and Mary. I have to be honest. I don't know these people. But when he's finished, Mr. Cannell has convinced me that I ought to. And, as Jack struggles with his percocet and percodan habit, there's a cool intervention scene that I don't think I've ever seen in a book.
So strap this one on. Slip on your black jeans, black turtleneck and a throwaway ankle gun. There's no commercials. Enjoy, boychick! 5 stars. Larry Scantlebury
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another fast paced overnight read from Cannell July 14 2003
Stephen Cannell has the gift of writing good old fiction that will keep you reading until you finish the book. The star of this novel is his unlikely protagonist, Herman Strockmeyer. An older, unattractive, overweight attorney for "lost cause" clients against Government agencies, he is the David that takes on Goliath for the good of humanity.
With a serious heart condition threatening his life, he refuses to take time out from his cases because he is the only one who will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. His lovely daughter Susan works with him, and during his investigation for his case against Gen-a-Tec and their biologically engineered corn, his assistant is savagely murdered. Susan and Herman hire unlikely detective Jack Wirta, an ex-LA cop with a prescription drug habit, to find out why Roland was murdered.
This unusual trio of heros is what makes this book tick so loudly, Mr. Cannell's talent for bringing these people to life is the heart of the novel. Our trio discovers much more than biologically engineered corn when their investigation of Gen-a-Tec pulls them into danger with DARPA, a black-op government agency that will do anything to hide their illegal and unethical genetics project. As they run from one danger straight into the next, barely escaping time after time, you won't be able to let go until the conclusion.
Fast paced as all of Mr. Cannell's books are, this is a good story and a quick read with a truly likeable protagonist, and a highly recommended break from your stack of self-help and text books. Enjoy! :-)
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3.0 out of 5 stars MONKEYIN AROUND Feb. 1 2004
Cannell is best when he sticks to high-octane, energetic pacing and stronger characters. What we get in RUNAWAY HEARTS is a story that takes forever to kick into high octane gear, and we get as secondary characters, both seen and unseen, of Donald Trump, Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Jim Carrey, Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson. It's like Cannell is showing how he panders with the upper crust celebrities. Cute, but rather unbelievable.
The plot is straightforward, although Cannell doesn't have to let the reader know on every other page, how "ugly and fat" Herman Strockmire is, or how "beautiful" his daughter Susan is. Judge Melissa King is too much of a villain to be believable, and the chimera aren't used enough to generate the suspense. There are some witty scenarios, and some black humor; and the ending picks up the pace considerably, but this is not Cannell at his best, as evidenced in his Shane Scully series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Most Enjoyable Oct. 30 2003
This is a book that is a little bit of John Grisham and Michael Crichton, but mostly it is Stephen Cannell. It holds your attention, challenges your ideas of what is credible, makes you laugh, makes you think and always entertains you. I looked forward to picking it up and continuing along with the story of the Don Quixote of the legal community in California as he tilted at windmills and the judiciary that thought him unworthy. However, one of his windmills turned out to be real and also deadly and how that all gets exposed and dealt with is a most entertaining story and a tale worth reading and thinking about. Let's hope that the technology which is in the book is not available today. The fly leaf says it is. If so, we all have something to think about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cannell never disappoints! July 29 2003
Jack Wirta, an ex-cop, starts a detective agency (next door to a gay dating service.) His first client is Susan Strockmeyer,
whose father is a lawyer weak of really he has heart problems. Herman Strockmeyer, the father, is an advocate of left-wing causes. Ah, the monarch butterfly! However, now we
are submersed in a government plot that utilizes DNA apes who become soldiers. Extreme killing machines that can rip your arm or leg off! Jack has qualms because of non-payment of his bills. But he kind of has a thing for Susan.
Although the theme seems rather absurd, the whole government secret plot is believable. I totally enjoyed this book and had a runaway read.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Team Meets X Files
Rather than summarize the book, as other reviewers have so skillfully done I recommend this book as an exciting page turner. Difficult to put down. Read more
Published on Dec 28 2003 by H. F. Miglino
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad!
SJC has managed to entertain me once again with his writing style. This was such a good, fast-paced story that will pull you in and keep you wondering how our heroes are going to... Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2003 by fjmcmm
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 stars
'Runaway Heart' refers to Herman Strockmeyer, an attorney described by some as "...a tree-and-bunny hugger who has sued just about every federal letter agency in the... Read more
Published on July 27 2003 by Konrad Kern
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read!
This is a great novel from Cannell. The story is smart, well thought out and at the same time is a fast paced action adventure. I found it hard to put down ! Read more
Published on June 30 2003 by Rafael Lydon
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT READ!
Cannell's books just keep getting better! I love his Shane Scully novels, and was really excited to find another of his books so entertaining! Read more
Published on June 30 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars This novel is FANTASTIC!
I immensely enjoyed this work of Cannell's. I think it's my favorite of his so far. It's exciting, fast-paced, and the characters are unique and interesting - incredibly so. Read more
Published on June 13 2003 by Phoebe Marie
5.0 out of 5 stars This novel is completely mesmerizing!
I have read many of Stephen J. Cannell's books, and I think this is my favorite so far! It's not only that it's exciting (couldn't put it down) -- but also, I found his imagery... Read more
Published on June 13 2003 by Phoebe Marie
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