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Vanishing Act

3.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing (April 22 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517171503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517171509
  • Shipping Weight: 572 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
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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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Jack Killigan used the reflections in the dark windows to watch he woman walk quickly up the long concourse, look at her high heels so she could take a few extra steps while the escalator was carrying her down, and then hurry around the curve so she could step onto the conveyor. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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By Marty From SF TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 20 2004
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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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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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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The good news is that the protagonist of this book is a very unique fictional character. The bad news is that the story was a bit convoluted to hold my attention.
Here's the premise -- Jane Whitefield is half Native American and is in the business of helping people disappear. She has spent the last ten years of her life hiding people with the full knowledge that if they can disappear, without leaving a trail, and stay hidden for two or three months, the chance of ever being found drops considerably. Her clients run the gamut from wives escaping spousal abuse to informants escaping the mob -- all innocent people who cannot be suitably protected without some kind of help. Jane is considered a "guide". She guides people out of their fragile situations with the aid of her network of willing accomplices who help her with new identifications and transport for these runaways.
The setting of this episode takes place in Upstate New York where Jane is able to use her Native American instincts to weave her way through the lakes and forests of this region. In the true tradition of her Seneca ancestors, her ingenuity is remarkable and her intuition extraordinary. This was the interesting part of the book as I learned about the cultures of the tribes that originally inhabited this area as Jane actually takes one of her fugitives to an Indian reservation for refuge.
The opening chapter starts off with a chase through the airport as a victim of an abusive spouse is being trailed by a bounty hunter hired by her husband. Little does the bounty hunter know that Jane Whitefield is in that same airport setting the stage for an exciting story. The events that follow include the mob, embezzling, a deadly poker game, a framed accountant and a chase against the elements.
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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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