The Face-Changers: A Novel of Suspense

Thomas Perry, Author Random House (NY) $24 (400p) ISBN 978-0-679-45303-1
Jane Whitefield, last seen in Perry's Shadow Woman, is an alluring operative of Indian heritage who helps people disappear. It is an arcane pursuit, involving myriad skills and constant vigilance. In fact, when Jane gets married to surgeon Carey McKinnon, she hopes to give it up and lead a normal life. Unfortunately, McKinnon's mentor, plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Dahlman, who is accused of murdering his assistant and has been shot and wounded by police pursuers, is in urgent need of her services; and since McKinnon is convinced he is innocent, Jane agrees to employ her expertise one more time. Thus begins Perry's latest, which soon begets layer upon layer of deception and intrigue. It seems that Dahlman himself, with a series of operations, had helped someone attain a new identity, and that he is being pursued not by the police but by men intent on killing him for what he knows. But who are they? Re-establishing some of her old creepy contacts, Jane becomes convinced the villains are in the business of frightening people into believing they are in danger, then collecting vast sums to help them vanish. And now that the FBI is after Jane for Dahlman's escape, she is beleaguered on two fronts. This is really a prolonged chase novel, enlivened by some smooth action writing and a remarkable mastery of escape techniques--one would hate to be a debt collector in search of the author. It does seem in the end, however, an overly complex structure that obliges a reader to put up with long passages filled with nothing but the minutiae of pursuit and paranoia. The effect is somewhat claustrophobic, and Jane, for all her toughness and smarts, is not a particularly enlivening companion. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/04/1998
Release date: 05/01/1998
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