Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Thomas Perry is the author of the Jane Whitefield series as well as the bestselling novels Nightlife, Death Benefits, and Pursuit. He is the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for Best Novel, and he won an Edgar Award for The Butcher’s Boy.

He applied the Page 69 Test and the Page 99 Test to his new novel, Runner, and reported the following:
I think the Marshall McLuhan and Ford Madox Ford tests are always pretty reliable. For my new book, Runner, page 69 and page 99 are both part of one sequence, in which Jane Whitefield is taking her new client away from the people who are pursuing her. On page 69, Jane has just eluded a roadblock by taking a wide turn to clip one of the pursuers, and then played chicken with one of the chase cars, which veered off the road to avoid a collision. The scared client, a pregnant girl, complains:

Christine was breathing heavily, as though she had run a race. There were tears running from her widened eyes. "I can't believe you did that."

"I didn't chase them. They chased us."

"You know what I mean."

"They're hired hands. That means they're willing to kill us for money. It doesn't mean they're willing to die for money."

"You bet our lives on that? And my baby's life, too. You weren't just trying to get past. You wanted to force that car off the road."

Jane turned to look at her in curiosity. "Of course." Then she returned her eyes to the road and kept driving.

The passage gives a pretty good introduction to Jane and how she thinks and acts. She saves people who have good reason to believe they'll die if she doesn't. To save a client, Jane will do literally anything, and she's mildly surprised when one of them doesn't immediately understand the gravity of his predicament.

The second half of p. 69 gives the painful impressions of Carl McGinnis, the man Jane injured with her car, as he slowly senses how badly he's hurt, and realizes his colleagues are thinking about leaving him beside the road instead of taking him to a hospital.

Page 99 is the beginning of a scene in which Jane gives the girl her first lesson on fading into crowds in public places to keep from being spotted.

I think the McLuhan and Ford tests work for Runner. If a reader sampled those two pages and didn't find himself getting curious, then he'd probably be wise to look for another book.
Learn more about Runner at the publisher's website and at Thomas Perry's official website.

--Marshal Zeringue