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VINE VOICEon October 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I loved the "Breach" trilogy from Patrick Lee, and I absolutely enjoyed this book, the start of a series featuring Sam Dryden.

What makes Lee good? This book is a prime example. He writes with a sparse but good pacing. He drops hints and creates a mystery. He leads the reader into the story.

In this story, Dryden is out for a run, and stumbles across a small girl who is literally on the run, from government agents. He helps her, because what good guy would not? Her secrets slowly reveal themselves. Dryden is in for a penny, in for a pound, before he fully understand what he is getting into.

As a character, Dryden has the action hero instincts (and pacing) of a Jack Reacher. But the girl's story is a little bit science fiction, a little bit horror, adding a richness to the adventure/fight theme, and upending expectations from the reader. The result is a more creative fiction.

Also, because Lee is a good story teller, the book is hard to put down. The scenes in Chicago are unbelievable, but move fast. The dilemma faced by Dryden is fun and makes you awake to read.

Lee is now in the "buy every book he writes" category.
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on February 24, 2014
RUNNER is such an appropriate title for Patrick Lee’s fourth and latest novel, by far his best to date. We first meet Sam Dryden, the protagonist of this thrill-per-page book, as he is taking a late evening recreational run. He promptly meets a young girl named Rachel, who is running for her life. Dryden, a retired special ops team member with a frightening skill set, becomes Rachel’s self-appointed protector as they are chased across the country --- from the West Coast to Chicago and beyond --- by a powerful and shadowy group of people with the might and majesty of every tool of the United States government at their disposal.

So why are the runners running? That takes a while to be revealed, though Lee drops breadcrumbs throughout the story starting near the beginning. It seems that Rachel has some sort of power; unfortunately, she’s been held in a facility where they’ve kept her medicated, so she isn’t entirely sure what it is. She has some amazing capabilities when it comes to mind-reading, but the thing she can do --- the one thing she can’t remember --- is the reason that some powerful and dangerous people want her dead. Dryden is the perfect person for Rachel to run into. He’s dealing with some losses of his own and moving on automatic pilot through life when Rachel literally runs into him. He takes her under his protection as they both run for their lives.

You will be forgiven if your two primary and constant reactions throughout RUNNER are 1) How will they get out of THAT?! and 2) WTF? Is Rachel’s power ultimately revealed? Yes, and it is a scary one, a power that will make your hair stand on end and cause you to wonder if Rachel, or someone like her, isn’t out there right now, doing what she is capable of doing.

There is also a high level of paranoia that runs through RUNNER, as Dryden finds that the number of people he can trust is almost as low as the number of people he can believe. There aren’t many, including a surprise or two. But that would be telling. For every great protagonist, one needs an even greater and more powerful antagonist. Lee gives us that someone who, with a snap (or two) of his fingers, can make Dryden the most hunted man in America. I spent most of the novel waiting for a net to drop over Dryden and Rachel. It does, for a moment or two, but Lee is just getting started. By book’s end, your heart will be in your mouth or on the floor, everywhere it’s not supposed to be.

RUNNER is complete in itself, though I understand there are more Dryden books on the way. This is good news. He is a strong but sympathetic protagonist with a subtle element of humanity, which is missing or perhaps less pronounced in similar characters one might find in the thriller novel section. Here’s to much more of Dryden and Lee in the future.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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on March 1, 2014
This is the kind of concept that, as a writer, I wish I'd thought of, and I am envious of Mr. Lee's breathtaking execution of it. If you've ever read a thriller writer for the first time and thought, hmm, let me go buy the rest of his books, well, that's my reaction to this one. And I really like it when heroes like Dryden, ex-military guy with lots of high powered experience and skills, are put in situations that are believable and require as much brainpower as firepower to get out of. And while the novel has a killer sci-fi premise, believable means Mr. Lee doesn't ever resort to cartoonish action sequences- like somebody else's novel I read recently where the lone hero pulls up in front of the bad guy's fortress with no plan, no idea how many people are inside or what weapons they have, and decides he's going in and kill them all packing a rusty switchblade. Really?

Buy this one. You won't regret it.
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Four and a half FAST-PACED Stars! Partrick Lee's latest action, adventure, techno-mystery novel is a great, but unrelated, addition to his debut novel "The Breach" and the two follow-on novels in the trilogy, "Ghost Country" and "Deep Sky". Once again we have a Travis Chase-like protagonist who is being chased by shadowy organizations for unfathomable reasons in a story that contains blazing action sequences that Lee excels at writing. But this time the object of the chase is not the protagonist, Sam Dryden, but the person he decides to protect: a helpless, terrified 12 year old kid whom he encounters while he was jogging on a foggy boardwalk near a California beach. This sets off a fast sequence of action events, some over the top, that keep the reader turning pages to discover why this youngster, Rachel, is being chased by determined and resourceful armed villains in the middle of the night. The action spreads across the US, as more is revealed about the kid, the villains, and Dryden himself. Author Lee has scored four great novels in a row, each full of enough chases, fights, shootouts, mystery, amazing technology, and much more to keep any adventure fan satisfied, describing it all in riveting prose. He spins mysterious, seemingly unrelated threads and then brings them all back together in an ending that had me immediately going back to the first chapter to start over, checking previous events and impressions. The subtitle "A Sam Dryden Novel" seems to indicate more to follow. Highly Recommended. Four and a half RIVETING Stars! (377 pages reviewed in Kindle Text and Text-to-Speech)
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on June 9, 2014
HATED: All the characters spoke like the same mature, serious 30-40 year old, whether street-smart, criminal women, the "bad guy", the female doctors or the hero--all spoke the same. No one had their own speech pattern, level of humour or unique words or phrases. No one even had unique behaviours, like biting their fingernails when worried, smoothing their hair has they spoke, etc.

LOVED: The huge amount of research/knowledge about espionage, etc, that helped make the scenes less contrived. Whether flying a helicopter, the technology bad guys use to track people, the way the searchers communicate, the way their ranks work, the levels of army training, parachuting ... the list goes on. Very well executed by the author!

HATED: I felt the 11 year old, Rachel, was an empty shell. In chapter 2, where she says, "It's not too late for you to keep yourself out of this. What you've already done is more than--" I thought, "Oh, no, this guy doesn't know how to write kids." She spoke like the other adults, which I self-explained as being because she had heard adult's thoughts all her life. However, I felt it was more realistic for her to long to be a regular child. She would have been deeper if she'd loved listening-in to children's minds--minds without care or knowledge of adult thoughts or bad things in the world. Wouldn't she seek out that kind of escape? When Rachel saw raunchy, naked adults in a hot tub, through the mind of an adult, I thought she'd naturally think, "Eww. Some adults are so gross. I hate when I see that stuff," or something age appropriate, but she thought nothing of it. Just because she was exposed to their thoughts doesn't mean she had to accept it. She verged on creepy because she was too stoic for a child and had no child-like interests. If she'd been better developed, she could have been a day-dreamer (which would fit with the end), noticing/capturing bugs all the time, or counting the different birds every day, or insisting on finding a TV at 5pm to watch Spongebob, or being fussy about the clothes she was told to wear. She never argued, never wanted to give up and run away to have fun, just always agreed with the adults. 11-year-old or robot?

HATED: The overuse of the words "simply" and "softly"! Every second page, someone simply decided, simply sat down, simply drove on, simply looked away... Drove me nuts. And then, we had on every fourth page, Her voice was soft... he said it softly... Harris asked softly... making his voice as soft as he could... Rachel said. Then softer. Ugh!

LOVED: Chapter 47 (last one). Very good ending that not only satisfied, it made me smile and tear-up. It was the perfect length, with the perfect amount of communication. Any more and it would have dragged, any less and it would have been left wanting. The ending was what made me wonder if it was more a 3 star book, it was that good. Dryden got his meaning in life back, thanks to Rachel, and Rachel got something that her revenge would have stolen from her--loved it.

HATED: the many, many POVs. Minor characters were introduced with their own POV right up to chapter 39, when we meet a guy who gets his own mini chapter. I skimmed all but the two main character's POVs, and I wasn't confused at all. It made me wonder if it could have been told "simply" from Dryden and Rachel's POV--but that would have made it half the book it is. Oh, amendment on my point of no one having their own voice--a minor character who was a dim Southerner got his own chapter (that grossed me out) and had a few lines that sounded different to everyone else.

HATED: Nothing on the covers said anything about this $20 book's main theme being sci-fi. I felt duped into buying it (hardcover), not that I mind basic aspects of sci-fi, but this was FULL ON sci-fi. If that's the kind of book it is, why disguise it as something else?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
THE RUNNER is yet another brilliantly creative page-turner from Patrick Lee. As with the amazing Breach trilogy, the action takes place in the near future, and the plot is driven in part by extraordinary technology.

In this thriller, advanced U.S. governmental surveillance satellites make it virtually impossible for any fugitive to hide anywhere in the world. Sensors can detect targets in back yards, on highways, in parking lots, in houses--and relative safety can be found only in shopping malls and other crowded areas that have too many warm bodies for infrared sensors to differentiate. So when Sam Dryden goes on the run with a young girl that the government wants dead, his awesome but slightly outdated special ops skills are barely adequate to keep the pair from immediate capture.

The girl, Rachel, is a mind reader--not a performer who makes educated guesses, but a "freak" who really hears the thoughts of nearby people. Rachel has landed on the government's death list because her extraordinary talent threatens to severely disrupt a governmental "research" program that is under development. What the program does is employ mind control to take over vulnerable individuals and turn them into deadly weapons.

The story has many unexpected plot twists, and Dryden's amazing and exciting yet believable escape maneuvers keep the reader reading. There are some odd coincidences that seem at the time to merely aid the fugitives' escape and advance the plot, but even these are explained and tied up persuasively at the end of this extremely well-crafted novel. If you love fast-paced thrillers, and worry at least a little about governmental plots against citizens, then I think you will enjoy this book as much as I did. I can't wait to read Patrick Lee's next book.
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on June 9, 2015
From the outset, I really liked the writing style of the author. However, I became annoyed at the over-the-top character of Sam Dryden. He's likable enough, but ends up being nearly superhuman. He has a super secret military background, can operate every type of weapon, fly helicopters, skydive, etc. The level of the character's expertise contrasts with the author's mistakes when it comes to some of the weapons (specifically a Sig Sauer pistol and an MP 5 submachine gun). A little more research would have solved these problems. This, combined with a bit of a choppy structure that deviates into some secondary characters, convinced me to rate this book 2 stars.
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VINE VOICEon October 2, 2014
Turns out I've read all Patrick Lee's books. The stories, the characters that inhabit them, and his way of telling them fits, exactly, my need for a unique, innovative and adventurous read.

"Runner" is that kind of story. It's about the mind, and control and there is almost constant movement throughout the telling. And during those brief moments when the characters stop for a breath it's because what's in store next will overwhelm the reader. Sam Dryden, the protagonist, is perfect in his role and everything he does, or that happens to him, is perfectly thought out by the author and if confusing, at first, later becomes absolutely understood. I found all the lead characters well drawn out and like square pegs in square holes they perform together as the perfect entity.

Mr. Lee has a knack for using and explaining cutting edge technology and then leaping the chasm into the unknown. Everything makes sense, and there are no loose strings as it all comes together at the appropriate moment. I truly did enjoy "Runner" and look forward to more from Patrick Lee.
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on March 23, 2014
This is an author who knows how to write a story. I'm not going to go over what this book is about -- you can read it in the synopsis above. What I can tell you is that this is a story that will grab you right from page one and not let go of you until the last page. The author puts in just enough description to paint you a picture but not so much as to bore you to death and cause you to start skipping whole sentences and even paragraphs. The character Sam Dryden is instantly sympathetic and you root for him through out the story. I literally can't wait to read another installment in this (hopefully) on going series. You will NOT regret buying this book. I read a lot of books and download probably 3 times as many samples that ultimately I discard without reading the entire book. This author is a "keeper" and will stay on my radar while I eagerly look forward to his next venture.
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VINE VOICEon October 3, 2015
This has a lot of good action. The hero Sam does smart and neat things to evade the bad guys. The bad guy has top U.S. powers behind him. He uses spy satellites, helicopters, and soldiers. The bad guy puts notices on all TV channels saying Sam is a terrorist - asking for help from citizens to find Sam.

The problem was each time I stopped reading, I felt kind of empty. I wasn’t emotionally connected. The characters were one dimensional. You need a little bit of good in the bad guy and a little bit of weakness or weirdness in the good guy. Instead everyone had one role and that is all we saw. It felt flat.

I was disappointed in the ending. It was not explained. It left a big hole for me. Technically it was a happy ending for the main characters, but the logic didn’t work. I explain this in my comment after this review. It’s too much of a spoiler to put here.

One part annoyed me, contrived by the author. Rachel has amnesia for a week due to drugs given to her by the bad guys. When she finds people she used to live with they won’t tell her about her past. She’s running for her life and could use that knowledge. They say it’s better for her to learn through her own memory. They aren’t medical people. It was like we know but we aren’t going to tell you. That was annoying. If the author wants to delay Rachel learning about her past, he should not have her see her friends. In the next Rachel scene, she knew everything so it wouldn’t have hurt the plot.

DATA:
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Story length: 376 pages. Swearing language: strong including religious swear words but rarely used. Sexual language: moderate. Number of sex scenes: about six but very short with not much detail. Scenes include two women together and a man with two women. Setting: current day various U.S. locations. Copyright: 2014. Genre: suspense thriller.
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