Free Download | The Face-Changers (Jane Whitefield) | Thomas Perry

Our book club's book for May was THE FACE-CHANGERS, a Jane Whitefield novel by Thomas Perry. For those who have not read Perry before, Jane Whitefield is a Native American "guide" whose job is to help people (usually innocent people accused of crimes they didn't commit) disappear, to move "off the grid." Her job is always made much more challenging by the fact that by the time she gets involved in any particular "case," the person she's helping to save is already in a lot of trouble with the bad guys closing fast.

We chose this book because we wanted to try something with a Native American/American Indian theme, but we didn't want to read Tony Hillerman. Not that we don't like him, but we've all ready several books by him and we wanted to try something different. Some of us had read earlier books in this series and recommended them enthusiastically, which is how we came to this book.

In THE FACE-CHANGERS, Jane has tried to "retire"; she is now the wife of a respected doctor and she wants to get out of the danger business. But she's pulled back in by a surprising source--her own husband, whose mentor in medical school is now falsely accused of murder and is on the run from the law, because he has been framed. Unable to say no to her husband, Jane jumps into the case with mastery.

To say more would be moving into spoiler territory, because the plot is quite intricate and involved many twists and turns as Jane tries to stay a step ahead of the "bad guys," while also finding herself saving another unwitting victim from some truly unscrupulous thugs.

The joy of reading this book is in the really exquisite detail of Jane's brilliant she observes every situation, tries to stay a step or two ahead, outwit someone, or pull off a scam of her own, all with the goal of keeping her charges safe. Jane is like a Harry Houdini, and what makes the book such a fascinating read is that her exploits don't strain credibility. There's action, and a fast pace, but you never think, "Oh, come on, this is ridiculous." That's because Perry has so perfectly plotted everything out. As a group, we were highly impressed by this aspect of the book..."awed" might even be a better word.

There are just a few small caveats. Though labeled a "novel of suspense" -- and it is very suspenseful -- this is not a book that you can read quickly or breeze through. Because the detail of the escape arts is so intricate, you really do have to read every line, every paragraph; as a result the book seems to paradoxically move suspensefully but slowly. Also, Jane herself, while a provocative character, is not explored in much depth if at all. She is absolutely a master at what she does, and she is devoted to her craft and to the people she protects, but we don't really get to know much about her. So, really, as good as THE FACE-CHANGERS is, it can't be said that the book has deep characterization or a heroine you come to "love." We all admired Jane, without exception; it's just that she's really hard to get a handle on as a character. (Perhaps there is more about her history or her backstory in earlier novels; this is the first Perry book I read. Some other members said they remember the earlier books being the same way, with Jane always formidable but never quite developed fully.)

We all felt that we would like to read more by Thomas Perry. He has written several excellent non-series books, too, so I personally may try one of those before going to another Jane Whitefield book.