St. Martin's Press: 2/18/2014
Hardcover, 336 pages
Sam Dryden Series #1
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?
Runner by Patrick Lee is a highly recommended action packed thriller.
At 3 AM one morning off the coast of Southern California Sam Dryden can't sleep and goes running on the board walk when, suddenly, out of the mist, another runner crashes into him. The other runner is a terrified preteen girl named Rachel. With fear in her eyes she tells him she will explain everything but first she needs his immediate help to escape the armed men chasing her. Dryden has seconds to assess the situation and decides to help her hide from the men. It soon becomes clear to Dryden, 36 years old and retired Special Forces, that the men after Rachel are all heavily armed and highly trained.
When they are able to talk, Rachel tries to explain that she has been drugged and can only remember the last two months of her life. Along with her limited memory she has an incomplete picture of why the men are chasing her to kill her. What she does know is that she can hear everything people are thinking, every thought and idea. What she can't remember is what other information she knows that would make anyone want to kill her and she is unsure why she has been the captive of a clandestine group up to the time of her escape.
Dryden accidentally loses his wallet during their run and the people after Rachel, who have high reaching government connections, know who he is and what his skill set involves. Dryden and Rachel search for answers while trying to escape the unprecedented ability of their pursuers to track their every move as they make their way across the country. While on the run and hoping Rachel's memories will return, we also learn about the personal tragedy in Dryden's past. While Rachel is on the run from something she can't remember, Dryden has been on the run from his memories. Although this fact is clear, it is certainly not the overwhelming arc of the story.
Runner is an extremely well written thriller that provides heart pounding action at an unrelenting pace. While there are some science fiction elements they are totally on the spectrum of believable scientific advances, akin to Michael Crichton's work. I appreciated the alternating points of view between Dryden and his pursuers. The mind boggling skin-of-your-teeth escapes from being ambushed and killed certainly added enough twists and turns to please this thrill seeking reader. The fast pace and careful release of information makes this a good choice for escapism.
Since this is considered the first book in a Sam Dryden series we can look forward to more action-packed adventures!
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of St. Martin's Press via Netgalley for review purposes.