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Vanishing Act (Jane Whitefield Novels) Mass Market Paperback – March 2, 1996

130 customer reviews
Book 1 of 8 in the Jane Whitefield Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perry's sixth novel (after Sleeping Dogs) is a taut thriller that at times reads like an extended, though flawed, character study of its heroine. Jane Whitefield, half-white, half-Indian member of the Seneca Wolf clan, helps people disappear-people like Rhonda Eckerly, fleeing her abusive husband, or Harry Kemple, hoping to stay alive after witnessing a gangland shooting. Like a one-woman witness protection program, Jane has helped both vanish by giving them new identities and new starts at life. Now an alleged new victim has invaded Jane's upstate New York house: John Felker claims that he's a cop-turned-accountant, is being framed as an embezzler and has a contract out on his life. Almost immediately, the men chasing Felker appear, and Jane leads him farther upstate, to a Canadian Indian reservation where he can build a new life. Jane is an original and fascinating creation. Like Andrew Vachss's series hero, Burke, she operates outside the law, but with a particular slant born of her distinct character and Seneca heritage. Perry tells her story in a trim and brisk manner, moreover, with plenty of action and suspense. It takes Jane far longer than it will most readers to figure out that Felker is other than what he says, however, and while her trusting nature, which borders on gullibility, generates tension, it doesn't mesh with her hard-boiled profession and hunter-like wiles. It's only when the truth behind Felker is revealed, and Jane acts decisively on it, that most readers will regain the respect they've lost for this otherwise likable and unusually intriguing heroine.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?The protagonist in this convoluted tale of intrigue and suspense is Jane Whitefield, who helps people start new lives by acquiring new identities. She is drawn to John Felker, an ex-cop turned accountant who has been set up to take an embezzlement rap. Jane and Felker embark on an adventure that leads them from New York to Vancouver, from California to the Adirondacks. Somewhere along the way, the roles of hunter and hunted become blurred and Jane must call upon the wisdom of her Seneca ancestors to survive this latest vanishing act. A thriller with wide appeal.?Pamela B. Rearden, Centreville Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Jane Whitefield Novels
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (March 2, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804113874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804113878
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

THOMAS PERRY is the author of 23 novels including the Jane Whitefield series (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman, The Face Changers, Blood Money, Runner, Poison Flower, and A String of Beads), Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel. He won the Edgar for The Butcher's Boy, and Metzger's Dog was a New York Times Notable Book. The Independent Mystery Bookseller's Association included Vanishing Act in its "100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century," and Nightlife was a New York Times bestseller. Metzger's Dog was voted one of NPR's 100 Killer Thrillers--Best Thrillers Ever.
Thomas Perry was born in Tonawanda, New York in 1947. He received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester in 1974. He has worked as a park maintenance man, factory laborer, commercial fisherman, university administrator and teacher, and a writer and producer of prime time network television shows. He lives in Southern California.  His website:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Martin A Hogan HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 20, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a happy accident for me and I am glad to have discovered Thomas Perry's novels. "Vanishing Act" is an amazing, original story of a half-white, half-Native American woman who acts as sort of a one person "Federal Protection" guide. She helps innocent people in danger disappear. There are several successful clients she meets in the first part of the novel and the dialogue is a true as can be. There is a constant tense feel to the narrative, as not only is this job dangerous, but Jane must prove herself each time, given her race and gender. The ultimate client she helps to disappear turns out to be other than she suspected and she is left to resolve a dangerous and deadly situation. Most impressive in Perry's writing is his attention to detail. Not only are all the Native American rituals and survival techniques explained in detail (and implemented), but his knowledge of the Adirondack Mountains is as accurate as a compass. Jane travels through real existing lakes, ponds, rivers and mountains. It's the kind of book that keeps you up well past midnight just so you can reach the climax and resolution.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By TheReader23 on September 19, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The good news is that the protagonist of this book is a very unique fictional character. The bad news is that the story was a bit convoluted to hold my attention.
Here's the premise -- Jane Whitefield is half Native American and is in the business of helping people disappear. She has spent the last ten years of her life hiding people with the full knowledge that if they can disappear, without leaving a trail, and stay hidden for two or three months, the chance of ever being found drops considerably. Her clients run the gamut from wives escaping spousal abuse to informants escaping the mob -- all innocent people who cannot be suitably protected without some kind of help. Jane is considered a "guide". She guides people out of their fragile situations with the aid of her network of willing accomplices who help her with new identifications and transport for these runaways.
The setting of this episode takes place in Upstate New York where Jane is able to use her Native American instincts to weave her way through the lakes and forests of this region. In the true tradition of her Seneca ancestors, her ingenuity is remarkable and her intuition extraordinary. This was the interesting part of the book as I learned about the cultures of the tribes that originally inhabited this area as Jane actually takes one of her fugitives to an Indian reservation for refuge.
The opening chapter starts off with a chase through the airport as a victim of an abusive spouse is being trailed by a bounty hunter hired by her husband. Little does the bounty hunter know that Jane Whitefield is in that same airport setting the stage for an exciting story. The events that follow include the mob, embezzling, a deadly poker game, a framed accountant and a chase against the elements.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. E Mercer on August 1, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm not much of a mystery/suspense fan and most of the genre I've tried leaves me either cold or revolted. Thomas Perry's writing leaves everyone else far behind. Jane Whitefield relies on her intelligence, athleticism and her native wisdom rather than just whipping out a gun. I hope there will be more Jane novels to come. Thank you, Mr Perry!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on September 20, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Vanishing Act is the first in a series of five books about Jane Whitefield, an Indian guide who will take someone from where there are people who want to kill them -- to where they are safe. She provides people with a new identity and a new life. John Felker is looking for just that. He is a former cop turned accountant who is being set up as an embezzler. Someone is skimming money from the accounting firm's customers and depositing it into an account in John's name. There is also an open contract on his life, so he needs to disappear.

The book is written in two distinctly separate parts. The first part is about how Jane makes someone disappear. We follow Jane and John cross country as they are being chased by the men who are after John. We are introduced to people along the way who help make their escape possible by providing safe places to stay or creating fake documentation or getting them transportation. When Jane finally gets John safe, the story takes a new twist. The people we have met along their journey are being murdered. Someone has been tracking them and Jane fears for John's safety. She has to go back to save him before the killers find him too.

The Native American culture and history were very interesting. Jane uses her training and skills in tracking and in creating weapons from items she finds in the woods. I thought of a few questions along the way that I wanted answers to and was a bit disappointed when those answers, found late in the book, would have cleared everything up quite early. Surely Jane is better at this than I am and should have asked them herself. But then we wouldn't have had a story, right?

Armchair Interviews says: Definitely pick Vanishing Act and up the next one in this unique series.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ever wondered how people disappear intentionally? Read this book and find out. Jane Whitfield is an interesting character and a bit of a rarity among male authors - she's a woman who lives a very different life and makes no apologies for it. She helps people in genuine trouble - not criminals running from the law - disappear into new lives. This book kept me reading until the end, despite disappointment in Whitfield's decision to help the person who comes to her at the beginning of the book with a rather unlikely story. Perhaps her need to believe is part of her character. Hopefully future books will explore her reasons for her unusual "occupation" - she doesn't take money for her work, it turns out
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