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Monday, March 9, 2015

A String of Beads by Thomas Perry

Mysterious Press, 400 pages, $26

Jane McKinnon just doesn’t have the same ring as Jane Whitefield, but Thomas Perry’s smart and ingenious white knight comes to the rescue under either name. “A String of Beads” is the eighth in the series of a Seneca woman who uses both modern and traditional Seneca ways to help people escape intolerable situations. She helps them disappear. Her way is safer than any witness protection program.

As “A String of Beads” opens, Jane is living companionably with her husband, Dr. Carey McKinnon. Except for taking a few cases, she has retired from the disappearing business. Her last case was the most difficult of her life; it left her with mental and physical scars. Although she still keeps in shape and her observational skills honed, she doesn’t anticipate being called upon again. Her husband certainly thinks she has given it up.

When the “mothers” of the eight Seneca tribes — the community’s wise women — call on Jane to help a young Seneca man who has been wrongfully accused of killing a man, Jane does not take their request lightly. Despite Carey’s displeasure, she feels honor-bound to help her childhood friend, Jimmy.

So much for expectations.

First, she has to track down Jimmy. Then she has to hide him. Then she has to figure out who framed him. And, finally, she has to figure out who wants to kill Jimmy and is willing to expend significant manpower to make it happen. It stopped being a “simple” murder case a while back.

Thomas Perry does another terrific job depicting Jane’s meticulous planning and farsightedness in helping Jimmy and some others escape sure death at the hands of mysterious thugs. Perry has Jane also help the fairly clueless police in a Lone Ranger kind of way. (Who was that masked woman?) It’s a caper novel without the heist. “The Great Escape” with McKinnon instead of McQueen. If you ignore the faintly awkward sex scene, it’s an enjoyable novel.


  1. I hadn't heard of this series before, but it sounds intriguing. Thanks for adding another book/author to my TBR list! ;o)

  2. "Vanishing Act," written in 1995, is the first in the series. Besides being a great story, it had a well-done female point-of-view by a male author, an unusual accomplishment. Over the last few books, Perry has updated his protagonist, who would be in her fifties had she aged normally. (Book years are like dog years and call upon readers to suspend disbelief.) She also uses cell phones and the Internet, unlike her 1995 predecessor.