Friday, January 09, 2015

Review: A String of Beads

Book Cover: A String of Beads by Thomas Perry A String of Beads by Thomas Perry
Published 6 January 2015
by Mysterious Press
Source: eARC from NetGalley

After two decades protecting innocent victims on the run, and a year after getting shot on a job that took a dangerous turn for the worse, Jane McKinnon, née Whitefield, has settled into the quiet life of a suburban housewife in Amherst, New York—or so she thinks.

One morning as she comes back from a long run, Jane is met by an unusual sight: all eight clan mothers, the female leaders of the Seneca clans, parked in her driveway in two black cars. A childhood friend of Jane's from the reservation, Jimmy, is wanted by the police for the murder of a local white man. But instead of turning himself in, he's fled, and no one knows where he is hiding out. At the clan mothers' request, Jane retraces a walking trip she and Jimmy took together when they were fourteen in hopes that he has gone the same way again. But it soon becomes clear that the police aren’t the only ones after him. As the chase intensifies, the number of people caught up in this twisted plot multiplies, and Jane is the only one who can protect those endangered by it. A String of Beads is an addictive, fast-paced thriller about how abandoning the past can sometimes be the hardest thing to do, even when your life—and the life of those you love—depends on it.

My Thoughts

Once upon a time, there was Jane Whitefield, a young Seneca woman who acts as a guide to help innocent people adopt new identities to escape from those who would do them harm. Think “private witness protection program”, except Jane will not take a client who is a criminal. She's the last resort for battered wives, the falsely accused, an inadvertent witness, and the innocent whistle blower.

After her marriage to Dr. Carey McKinnon, Jane goes into retirement, but after 10 years, she finds that she feels compelled to occasionally return to her previous role when she truly is the last resort. It's been a year since her last client and this time the request for her services comes from the entire group of clan mothers of her tribe—asking that she use her skills to help her childhood friend who has been framed for murder.

Having accepted a string of beads from the clan mothers as a token of the contract between them, Jane sets out to find her friend Jimmy and help him return safely home where he can surrender to the police. But, things quickly escalate when Jane discovers that it's not just the police who are seeking Jimmy. The man who framed him is determined that Jimmy not live to stand trial. In Jimmy's case, Jane isn't helping him establish a permanent identity, she's simply trying to keep him hidden enough to smoke out the bad guys who are hunting him and make it safe for Jimmy to turn himself in.

A String of Beads is the eighth book in Perry's mystery series and I enjoyed it very much. It's definitely much better than the previous book, Poison Flower. Jane is at her best as she is evading her pursuers and utilizing the alternate identities she has carefully cultivated over twenty years. As she is protecting her client, she's also instructing him on how to hide. There's lots of action with a number of close calls and a big showdown at the end. Another departure from past stories is that Jane is actively trying to solve the murder so that Jimmy doesn't have to stay hidden for the rest of his life. As usual, the book is filled with references to Seneca beliefs, customs, and history.

I strongly recommended this newest volume for fans of the series and encourage those new to Jane Whitefield to start at the very beginning with Vanishing Act. You've got quite an adventure with one of mystery's strongest female protagonists.


Note that I received a free copy of A String of Beads from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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