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by Patrick Lee
Minotaur Books, February 2014
336 pages
ISBN: 1250030730

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Patrick Lee's latest thriller RUNNER grabs the reader and does not let go. Lee's hero is Sam Dryden, ex-special forces operative now finding life sad and difficult in the wake of losing his family in a tragic accident. He lives near the ocean in southern California, and goes running on the Boardwalk in the middle of the night because he cannot sleep. In the pitch-blackness of one of these runs, he plows into the running form of a young girl. She is barefoot and desperate. Men, who Dryden can hear approaching, are after her and she is clearly terrified. He helps her to hide under the boardwalk, and though they temporarily outwit their pursuers, Dryden drops his wallet. The people who are after the girl, whose name is Rachel, find it and now know whom she is with. Rachel and Dryden cannot go back to his house.

As they try to escape the area, they are tracked by high tech satellites that can follow them anywhere. They run and run but their chances of getting away seem slim. Yet, the reader reasons, the book has just started. They must elude their chasers. The level of tension we are experiencing cannot continue through over 300 more pages. How they get away each time and at each juncture, why the girl is running, why the men who are after her want her, what special powers and abilities she has - explaining any of this would spoil the book.

All I will say is that the government was doing some human experiments at Fort Detrick, Maryland, that went awry and Rachel is the product of this. She cannot remember anything about her life before the last two months. Her temporary memory loss may be a good thing as we learn more about what she is capable of. We are also kept on edge by the changing faces of the bad guys. It becomes a challenge to know whom to trust.

Patrick Lee is a fine writer and maintains the suspense even as the events become difficult to believe. He has mastered the formula for this genre, which includes a hero with a history in the military elite and a stoic ability to handle pain, some cruel villains, other untrustworthy or unreliable characters, the threat of catastrophe or conspiracy to commit a high stakes crime, as well as a series of events that cannot be figured out in advance. As a hero, Sam Dryden is smart and immensely capable, as well as a genuinely nice guy, which is not always the case with his sort of protagonist. RUNNER has some basis in our current paranoia about the government's ability to track us and even know what we are thinking. It is a timely and fun read.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, February 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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