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Vanishing Act [Hardcover]

Thomas Perry
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 22 1997
JANE WHITEFIELD is . . .



. . . in the one-woman business of helping the desperate disappear. Thanks to her membership in the Wolf Clan of the Seneca tribe, she can fool any pursuer, cover any trail, and then provide her clients with new identities, complete with authentic paperwork. Jane knows all the tricks, ancient and modern; in fact, she has invented several of them herself. But when Jane opens a door out of the world for an attractive fugitive named John Felker, she walks into a trap that will take all her heritage and cunning to escape. . . .



"A unique heroine, an ultracompetent woman attuned to the ancient ways of her ancestors and to the harsh realities of the modern, bureaucratic world."

--San Francisco Chronicle



"A compelling, multifaceted protagonist. Whitefield is as tough as Sam Spade, as tender as Jo in Little Women and as resourceful as Robinson Crusoe's Friday."

--Philadelphia Inquirer



"Strong-willed . . . [A] most singular creation."

--The New York Times Book Review



"Entertainingly resourceful."

--The New York Times



"One sharp and tough cookie."

--Detroit News


From the Paperback edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Perry's sixth novel (after Sleeping Dogs) is a taut thriller that at times reads like an extended, though flawed, character study of its heroine. Jane Whitefield, half-white, half-Indian member of the Seneca Wolf clan, helps people disappear-people like Rhonda Eckerly, fleeing her abusive husband, or Harry Kemple, hoping to stay alive after witnessing a gangland shooting. Like a one-woman witness protection program, Jane has helped both vanish by giving them new identities and new starts at life. Now an alleged new victim has invaded Jane's upstate New York house: John Felker claims that he's a cop-turned-accountant, is being framed as an embezzler and has a contract out on his life. Almost immediately, the men chasing Felker appear, and Jane leads him farther upstate, to a Canadian Indian reservation where he can build a new life. Jane is an original and fascinating creation. Like Andrew Vachss's series hero, Burke, she operates outside the law, but with a particular slant born of her distinct character and Seneca heritage. Perry tells her story in a trim and brisk manner, moreover, with plenty of action and suspense. It takes Jane far longer than it will most readers to figure out that Felker is other than what he says, however, and while her trusting nature, which borders on gullibility, generates tension, it doesn't mesh with her hard-boiled profession and hunter-like wiles. It's only when the truth behind Felker is revealed, and Jane acts decisively on it, that most readers will regain the respect they've lost for this otherwise likable and unusually intriguing heroine.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

YA?The protagonist in this convoluted tale of intrigue and suspense is Jane Whitefield, who helps people start new lives by acquiring new identities. She is drawn to John Felker, an ex-cop turned accountant who has been set up to take an embezzlement rap. Jane and Felker embark on an adventure that leads them from New York to Vancouver, from California to the Adirondacks. Somewhere along the way, the roles of hunter and hunted become blurred and Jane must call upon the wisdom of her Seneca ancestors to survive this latest vanishing act. A thriller with wide appeal.?Pamela B. Rearden, Centreville Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Tense, Real and Original June 21 2004
By Martin A Hogan TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was a happy accident for me and I am glad to have discovered Thomas Perry's novels. "Vanishing Act" is an amazing, original story of a half-white, half-Native American woman who acts as sort of a one person "Federal Protection" guide. She helps innocent people in danger disappear. There are several successful clients she meets in the first part of the novel and the dialogue is a true as can be. There is a constant tense feel to the narrative, as not only is this job dangerous, but Jane must prove herself each time, given her race and gender. The ultimate client she helps to disappear turns out to be other than she suspected and she is left to resolve a dangerous and deadly situation. Most impressive in Perry's writing is his attention to detail. Not only are all the Native American rituals and survival techniques explained in detail (and implemented), but his knowledge of the Adirondack Mountains is as accurate as a compass. Jane travels through real existing lakes, ponds, rivers and mountains. It's the kind of book that keeps you up well past midnight just so you can reach the climax and resolution.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An "A" for originality May 31 2004
By T. King
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jane Whitefield has to be one of the most original and interesting characters I have yet to come across. Though she did seem a little lacking in the personality department, I'm hoping that will change as the series progresses.
While in college, Jane helps a fellow Native American, of questionable integrity, escape some bad guys with even less and stumbles on a career. After performing a string of successful disappearances, Jane is duped into compromising a client's identity. It takes her quite a long time for her to figure out who the bad guy is, most readers of this genre will figure it out right away, but once she does, she gets right on the trail. While the methods she employs to do this all make logical sense, they do require gigantic leaps of faith on the part of the reader. Still, one can't help but to admire her tenacity. The showdown is exciting and suspenseful.
The pacing of the story is a little uneven in places. This is a flaw I've found in every Perry novel I've read, this is my third. In spite of this, I do find him to be an original and entertaining storyteller and will continue to seek out other titles.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Idea Becomes a Vanishing Act May 13 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While the idea of a female non-detective protagonist is a neat twist in the genre, this female has a personality which is neither attractive nor repelling. She is a zero. It is hard to identify with her. She is humorless. Her next door neighbor is totally implausible once he decides to join the chase. The plot was destroyed by the characters. I was hoping Jane Whitefield would get whacked and save me some pain.
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2.0 out of 5 stars started good Aug. 23 2002
By Cheryl
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I could not finish this book.It started out so promising but I found all the detail about the American Indians distracting and so i got bored and quit reading it.When i find myself skimming through parts of a book to read faster then i know I shouldn't read any further.I hate quitting a book but I just couldn't get past all the detail about the native history. Some would find this interesting but i didn't.I might try this author again...
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2.0 out of 5 stars at least start is lively July 25 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It all starts good and interesting, however, the plot is centered around dumb actions of the good girl and on otherwise unfounded expectations of the bad guy that she will do exactly these stupid things, it is so annoying that it is almost impossible to read this book once you realize this.
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3.0 out of 5 stars People finding new identities July 11 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The novel introduces Jane Whitefield when she switches places with another woman and beats the daylights out of a sleazy bounty hunter who thinks he is kidnapping a runaway wife. It illustrates how people can completely disappear and start life over as a new person. The story digresses a lot to discuss American Indian lore, and that can be distracting. One gets the impression that the author is trying to show off his knowledge of the subject.
Jane is willing to commit criminal acts to obtain her objectives (the end justifies the means), and some of the people she assisted are not outstanding citizens. Dealing with the wrong side of the law will eventually get you into trouble. Jane makes an error in judgement which could get her killed, and compounds that by wanting to operate as a lone wolf with no backup. Her opponent makes an even bigger mistake, i.e., if you are trying to disappear you do not return to your home area.
Overall, the plot is interesting, but I considered it a somewhat average mystery.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
The first Jane Whitefield novel, *Vanishing Act*, offers a unique protagonist, a brilliant premise, non-stop action, and a conclusion that will have you treading softly the next time you go looking for Bambi. Perry is a superb craftsman, whose novels are always literate, challenging, and thoughtful. He seems to have lost interest in Jane after six novels, three of which attempt to retire her. Too bad. Even though he is right, that sustaining a character through decades is hard work and perhaps not even very interesting, she is missed.
Read *Vanishing Act*, *Shadow Woman*, and *Dance for the Dead*. These are the must-haves of the series. Perry manages to create a believable Seneca world while maintaining a respectful distance, and his intricate plotting sustains each book. Read for the plot, read for the Indians: either way, you'll be happy.
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