Author(s): Patrick Lee
Series: Sam Dryden #1
Published by St. Martin on 02/18/2014
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Sam Dryden, retired special forces, lives a quiet life in a small town on the coast of Southern California. While out on a run in the middle of the night, a young girl runs into him on the seaside boardwalk. Barefoot and terrified, she’s running from a group of heavily armed men with one clear goal—to kill the fleeing child. After Dryden helps her evade her pursuers, he learns that the eleven year old, for as long as she can remember, has been kept in a secret prison by forces within the government. But she doesn’t know much beyond her own name, Rachel. She only remembers the past two months of her life—and that she has a skill that makes her very dangerous to these men and the hidden men in charge.
Dryden, who lost his wife and young daughter in an accident five years ago, agrees to help her try to unravel her own past and make sense of it, to protect her from the people who are moving heaven and earth to find them both. Although Dryden is only one man, he’s a man with the extraordinary skills and experience—as a Ranger, a Delta, and five years doing off-the-book black ops with an elite team. But, as he slowly begins to discover, the highly trained paramilitary forces on their heels is the only part of the danger they must face. Will Rachel’s own unremembered past be the most deadly of them all?
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In Runner, Patrick Lee takes the standard military thriller and manages to add some new twists that elevate the book beyond what is expected from the genre. Since I am a fan of the thrillers and read a lot of these types of books it is pretty rare that I am surprised by them. I was really pleased that this one managed to surprise me by the second chapter.
This book is an interesting mixture of the standard ex-special forces hero comes out of retirement to save the girl type of story and adds a light sci-fi element giving the plot a nice spin. What is better is that the twist isn’t held until the end of the book but instead put up front in the first few chapters.
The other thing that really helps this book is the pacing. A lot of thrillers claim to be “fast paced” but Runner really delivers on that promise. The action gets started by page 5 and never really slows down. Exposition scenes are few and far between, and when you do get them they are brief and book ended by more action. This book moves at a really breakneck pace that will keep you flipping pages to see what happens.
Lee also did an excellent job on the characters. Dryden is a pretty likeable guy and while he is the standard thriller bad-ass it isn’t as “in your face” as is so often the case. Most the time Dryden is just a guy making smart decisions and not running around sniping people a mile off and jumping into Kung-Fu fights. Even more then the likability of the protagonist is the relationship between Dryden and Rachel. I really liked that Lee put in a young girl instead of the standard damsel in distress that eventually couples up with the hero. With sexual tension off the table Lee was able to really build a relationship between these two and you can feel the paternal love vibe going on. Together you just can’t help but like Sam and Rachel.
I can’t say enough good things about this book. The plot is interesting, the pacing is fast and the characters are likable. In every way this is a good read and totally worth picking up.
Review by Travis Starnes