As I’ve written about before, I read a lot of both literary fiction and non-fiction that would fall into the category of political and historical writing, foreign affairs — reasonably dense material. Then, I buzz through some lighter fare. I’ve always loved mystery and crime writers, all the way back to Agatha Christie and her detectives Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. My love of the genre actually goes back farther than that. As a grade school reader I was enamored of Nancy Drew, whose creator Carolyn Keene called her young detective a “sleuth”. Now that’s a dated word.
On this most recent trip to Panama I discovered two books by Thomas Perry featuring his Seneca Indian heroine Jane Whitefield, and when I came home I downloaded the other six books onto my Kindle. I’m on book #6 now, with two more to go, and loving these well-plotted, fast moving stories. I spent the entire six hours on the plane back from Boston finishing one Jane Whitefield adventure and starting another. The books are a bit formulaic, which I think is common to the genre: Jane has dreams in which the ancestors bring her insight, she hides people who are being threatened in ways not easily resolvable in courts of law, she is endlessly resourceful about defeating the bad guys, she promises her husband that she is done with her salvaging of human lives only to be drawn in again. He loves her so he copes.
But the characters are well drawn and interesting, the plots terrifically engaging, and I love that the action originates in upstate New York, where I recognize a lot of the places where Jane goes.
If you like this kind of writing — if you’re a fan of Inspector Gamache or Gabriel Allon or Adam Dalgliesh — go for these Thomas Perry books and link up with Jane Whitefield. You won’t be sorry.