by Patrick Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Patrick Lee’s thriller, Runner (Minotaur Books 2014) lives up to its title. From page 1, when Sam Dryden–former Special Forces (and then some), trying and failing to recover from the death of his wife and child–starts running, he never stops. And with him, the action (enough to give you whiplash–in the words of Jesse Kellerman). Every time you think you know what’s going on, you don’t. The settings are well-drawn, characters believable, and the plot complex enough for a Mobius strip.
In a nutshell: Sam Dryden (hero of Patrick Lee’s Sam Dryden series) can’t sleep–a normal condition since he lost his entire family in a car crash. He goes for a 3am run, slams into fleeing 12-year-old Rachel, and agrees to help her escape the band of men chasing her. The fact that she is genetically engineered to be more than human endears her to him rather than frightens him (no surprise, he’s a tough guy). And the race begins–across wide-open spaces, aided by satellite surveillance, a constant battle of muscle vs. mind–lots of men with vicious weapons vs. the cerebral skills of a damaged SF guy and a brilliant young girl who has lost her memory.
I love stories when brawn is matched well by brainy brilliance. Although Sam Dryden is a superman in his own right, the real star of this book is Rachel–genetically engineered to be able to exert mind control over others in very sophisticated ways. The scientific explanation is credible enough to make me want to read more.
Patrick Lee not only is a good story teller, he’s a good writer. I’m always impressed by original similes, and Lee has several that caught my attention:
- town sliding past like a tanker in the fog
- something flickered through Marsh’s expression… He looked like a chess player assessing some new arrangement of pieces…
One trait I DON’T like in a book is when a publisher compares their writer’s character to the incomparable Jack Reacher. That’s like a contestant on the Voice singing a Barbara Streisand song–you’ll never be that good so why bring up that level of accomplishment?
Overall, a great read. I would have finished the entire book in one day, but time just ran out. I tried.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is editor of a K-8 technology curriculum and technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.