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The Runner Mass Market Paperback – October 9, 2001

75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Set against the backdrop of post-World War II Germany, The Runner is the story of Devlin Judge, an ex-New York City detective turned lawyer on the hunt for Nazi SS soldier Erich Seyss, recently escaped from an American POW camp. Seyss, a former Olympic track star known as "The White Lion," is responsible for myriad heinous war crimes, including the murder of a platoon of unarmed American prisoners--one of whom was Judge's own brother. Initially a member of the International Legal Tribunal, set to try former Nazis for crimes against humanity, Judge begs for the opportunity to track Seyss down. With only a week in which to do so, his hunt for the cold-blooded killer leads Judge to a race not only for his own life but for the future of Europe itself. Judge is pursuing a killer, but he is also chasing the ghosts of guilt, having decided not to enlist in the hopes of advancing his legal career: "Erich Seyss was his confession and his penance, his expiation and absolution, all tucked into a black-and-silver uniform with a death's-head embroidered on its collar and his brother's blood on its cuff."

The Runner lacks the crackling tension of Numbered Account, Christopher Reich's first novel. Even the moments of crucial conflict, or of bloody disaster, seem wan and pallid. The novel is, paradoxically, handicapped by Reich's respect for historical detail: his interest in presenting the grim realities of postwar existence leads him into extensive descriptions of place and time that fail to merge with the story he spins. These "set pieces" stand awkwardly apart, like dour history professors coaxed into supervising the machinations of rambunctious students. Reich's general fidelity to detail also means that the moments in which he temporarily throws accuracy to the wind are painfully apparent: how on earth would Judge, a well-fed and well-dressed American, manage to look as if he belonged in a German work-group detail? And when would any three-star general ever tolerate the gum-cracking insouciance of Judge's driver Darren Honey, a sergeant with no regard for military hierarchy? Oddly enough, the authorial liberties Reich takes with General George Patton, saddling him with a megalomaniac's hatred of the Russians and a schemer's plot to redraw the boundaries of postwar Europe, are largely successful and add a welcome note of barely contained evil.

The Runner works best as a moving meditation on personal and social disjunction: Judge, Seyss, Patton, and the rest are desperately engaged in deciphering the proper place for prewar rules in the postwar chaos--and in confronting the uneasy suspicion that perhaps, after all, there is no place for them or for their beliefs. Judge must move past his easy assumption that the Allied victory was not "just a symbol of superior might but of superior morality": "Overnight, he'd become the hunted, not the hunter.... At some point during the last twenty-four hours, he'd crossed over an interior median into unknown waters. He'd abandoned the rigid structure of his previous life, renounced his worship of authority, and forsworn his devotion to rules and regulation. He'd tossed Hoyle to the wind, and he didn't care." --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Reich's first novel, Numbered Account, did remarkably well for a debut. Unfortunately, Reich has hit upon a stale notion for his follow-up, and although the book moves along smartly, it feels mechanical in both plot and characters. Set in Germany just after the WWII surrender, it stars ace Nazi Olympic runner Erich Seyss, who as an SS man has performed untold atrocities--including the murder, in a massacre of unarmed American soldiers, of hero Devlin Judge's brother. That motivates Judge, a lawyer who is supposed to be prosecuting G?ring at the War Crimes Tribunal, to drop everything and set off in hot pursuit of Seyss when he escapes from a POW camp. Seyss is no ordinary escapee, but is being groomed by a band of German arms industrialists who want to revive their shattered country by turning the Americans against the Russians. How better to do it than by having an apparent Russian assassinate Churchill, Truman and possibly Eisenhower as well at Potsdam? Seyss throws himself into the role with vigor, energy and an amazing number of hairbreadth escapes. Meanwhile, Judge's pursuit is hampered by devious OSS operatives who want just what the Nazis want, for their own reasons; even General George Patton is involved, with apparent tacit support from Field Marshal Montgomery. Seyss's beautiful former lover, Ingrid, further complicates matters. The only remotely believable part of all this is the despairing postwar atmosphere of Germany in smoking ruins, which Reich brings to life with many sharply observant touches. But there's more to bestsellerdom than swift action and a long man-on-man chase against the clock, and most of The Runner is likely to strike fans of Ludlum and Forsyth as overly familiar. Agent, Richard Pine. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Island Books (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440234689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440234685
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hi Everyone,

It's great to be part of Amazon's new Author Page. Here's a short bio.

I was born November 12, 1961 in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Los Angeles four years later, in late 1965. I graduated from Harvard School (now Harvard-Westlake) in 1979, then made the move to Washington DC where I attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Upon graduating with a degree in international economics (a field in which I was neither particularly gifted nor interested), I worked as a stock broker for two years. One day my best client said, "Chris, you're a nice guy, but you have no idea what you're doing in this business. You might get into trouble one day. You gotta get your butt to business school." I followed his advice and headed down to Austin, Tx, to earn an MBA at UT.

After graduating from UT, I moved even farther east....all the way to Switzerland, where I joined the Union Bank of Switzerland, first in Geneva and then in Zurich. I left banking and worked first as a consultant, and then as the CEO of a small watch company in Neuchatel. The only thing I missed out on was the chocolate business! Anyway, after 7 years in Switzerland, I decided that it was high time to become an author. I'd never written a short story and I hadn't taken a single English class in college. So what? I was a demon reader and I thought for sure I could do. My wonderful wife supported the decision wholeheartedly and we moved back to Austin, where I would write my first novel, Numbered Account.

The rest, as they say, is history....Or, as I say, "history in the making!!"

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Wim Biemans on July 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having greatly enjoyed Reich's debut novel Numbered Account, I really looked forward to his next one. Although I had some doubts when I read that it involved a story about an American hunting a former SS-officer right after World War II, I couldn't resist. But I shouldn't have worried! The story is extremely captivating and especially the backdrop of the summer of 1945 provides a very interesting setting. The story is about an American lawyer, Devlin Judge, who decides to hunt down the SS-officer that killed his brother, Erich Seyss. Seyss is a former Olympian runner (which is not really relevant for the story) and also a master in impersonating the enemy (which is more interesting and proves instrumental in some interesting turns of events). Since Seyss just escaped, the story quickly turns into a cat-and-mouse game with a real conspiracy and a very interesting interpretation of Patton's actions!
Having read some of the reviews listed below, I am a bit surprised by some of them. Why do readers get so worked up by some minor factual errors that are not relevant for the story? Do they read a book to catch the writer in some mistakes, rather than enjoying the story? And, being a European, it is amusing to see how Americans get all upset since they feel that the memory of one of America's great hero's (Patton) gets soiled, while other readers feel the book is anti-German. Actually, Reich explained how Patton's actions in the book are based on real facts (okay, the story is fiction, but hadn't you noticed that?)and the book is overall quite neutral about either Americans, Germans or Russians. All groups contain both good and bad people; it is almost like real life!
Devlin Judge is a very enjoyable protagonist. One with a mission, a conscience, but also with doubts, self criticism and able to make mistakes. So, if you enjoy a good thriller with a very likable and believable hero, read this one!
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on March 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is every bit as good as his first, "Numbered Account", in fact I liked it even more.
Mr. Reich does not take the easy way out by using basic Historical fact and fictionalizing the balance of his book. The result is still Fiction, but researched with a Historian's eye, and some clever "what if?" scenarios. The result is a hybrid that is truly interesting and not just entertainment. I believe this allowed him to bring "The Runner" to readers that is fresh book, even though the main event it is based upon is not.
The book has some nice plot twists, what makes them so slick, is that they are not so transparent that they reveal the balance of the book when the first hint appears. When you think you may have the story line solved, another bit comes along, and Mr. Reich pulls the carpet from beneath you.
Mr. Reich is no one time winner. If this second effort is any indicator of the future, the next dozen will only continue his success.
Buy it. No regrets.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John R. Linnell on May 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Danial Silva did this kind of novel well - a World War II piece where we know the outcome from reading history, but not how it came about...the nitty gritty...the dirty little secrets. Christopher Reich takes it to the same level with this effort. By the time the central character in the book, Devlin Judge, gets to page 298, a question has occurred to him...and to most readers, I suspect..."Why were members of the American military assisting a fugitive SS officer and a scion of Germany's most powerful industrial family to carry out a heinous scheme whose success would ensure only personal heartbreak, national mourning and political instability?" The answer takes many more pages and involves a very plausable conclusion. This book is a departure from the previous notable first effort by the author, Numbered Account, but it stands on its own as a first class piece of writing which I recommend without hesitation.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on May 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those feasts for devotees of conspiracies. If you are a true paranoid you will have no problem in relating to a tale where most of the members of the U.S. Army are traitors. Then again I was in the Navy, so I really don't know what goes on in the Army.
Our story begins in Germany during the chaos of mid 1945. Our hero is an Army major, Devlin Judge, who is chasing down vicious ex SS major Erich Seyss who was responsible for the murder of Judge's brother. It appears that Seyss has been employed to conduct one last operation for the greater glory of Germany. He is to wreak some sort of havoc at the Potsdam conference to be attended by Truman, Stalin, and Churchill.
Go ahead, your turn. You fill in the story blanks. That's right our hero is right on the heels of the villain but can't quite catch him. A pretty woman enters the story. People that should be trusted really let us down. Excitement mounts as we near the Potsdam city limits. Stalin and his new friends eat borscht unaware that danger threatens.
I'm not trying to imply that the book is a bad one. It really isn't. The post WWII Germany setting is quite interesting. The story hums along just fine with lots of thrills and spills engineered to keep you awake an extra hour at night. The only problem is that the plot doesn't vary much from the standard formula for stories involving the good guy who is one step behind the bad guy who is about to destroy the world as we know it.
Oh yes, there's that strange ballistics lesson that we are given. Our villain has just shot a man in the head in order to steal his uniform. Author Reich states "It had been a clean shot, barrel pressed to skin so as not to risk bloodying the uniform." I guess when you shoot an officer in the head the bullet just rattles around inside the skull instead of exiting, and soiling those nice khakis with blood and brain fragments
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