Monday, February 24, 2014

Runner, by Patrick Lee

The first thing I would say about Patrick Lee's new novel is that if you are a fan of the ex-special-forces-loner-good-guy-against-impossible-odds genre, you will enjoy Runner thoroughly.  That's especially true if you are particularly willing to suspend disbelief.  I hope that doesn't sound like a criticism; I only mean it as explanation.  I am a fan of entertaining, suspense-filled, non-stop action novels, like those featuring Jack Reacher, Mitch Rapp, and now Sam Dryden.

A good chunk of Dryden's military career is off-the-record.  He'd like his post-military life to be off-the-record as well.  But living a solitary life, quietly mourning the loss of his wife and daughter, is not in the cards for him.  When he's out for a run late one night, a young lady in distress crosses his path, and suddenly he's drawing on all of his experience and resources to save this sweet girl from a bunch of government baddies.

Even with satellites and helicopters and every other modern surveillance tool at their disposal, the government creeps have trouble tracking down Sam and his charge.  When they finally do, Sam manages to stay one step ahead.  As he learns, this girl was part of a secret program developing mind reading and even mind-control technology.

There are plenty of twists and turns, and some sci-fi elements mixed in.  I was initially put off by the seemingly ludicrous start.  So Dryden just happens to go running at night, and just happens to run into the girl, and just happens to be perfectly suited to help her escape her captors.  While I enjoyed the chase, I kept thinking back to that coincidental start and wondering why Lee thought he could get away with it.  To his credit, he connected it all in the end.  It wasn't so coincidental after all.  (Although I still don't know why a careful person like Dryden would drop his wallet, or why he'd be carrying his wallet while running in the first place.  He should get a RoadID.)

This is fast, fun, escapist fiction that you don't want to put down once you start.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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