I had a habit when I was a child–if a book was too suspenseful, I would turn to the last page to see how it ended. Reading A String of Beads brought back that memory because I had to stop myself from doing it again. Thomas Perry knows how to write a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Jane Whitefield, born of a white mother and a Seneca Indian father, is now a doctor’s wife, ostensibly living a quiet life as a volunteer teacher of the Seneca language and a fund-raiser for her husband’s hospital in New York State. But all of her adult life she has had a secret–she helps innocent people who are in danger leave their current lives and begin again with new names, new jobs, new habits. She’s best described as a guide to a new life. When she married Dr. Carey McKinnon she promised to give up that part of her life, but she keeps being drawn back into it when she knows someone is in danger.
In A String of Beads, Jane is approached by the eight clan mothers of the various branches of her tribe. Jane’s activities have been known to the mothers for some time, they tell her, but there hasn’t been a reason until this moment for them to ask for her help. The string of beads in the title is called by the Senecas ote-ko-a. The giving of the ote-ko-a symbolizes the mothers’ request for Jane to find one of their tribe members; her acceptance of the beads is her agreement to do so.
Jimmy Sanders, a childhood friend of Jane’s, is being sought by the police as a suspect in a murder. All the mothers agree with Jane that Jimmy could never have killed a man, but foolishly he has run away, and they are asking Jane to find him. She sets out the following morning to retrace the trip that she and Jimmy took when they were teenagers, thinking that in his desire to evade the police he may have have gone back to that familiar trail; in fact she finds him there.
However, the police aren’t the only ones searching for Jimmy, and in fact they aren’t the most dangerous ones. The man who is the murderer and who set Jimmy up for the crime is anxious for Jimmy to be found and jailed, or else simply killed. The question before Jane and Jimmy is why has someone gone to so much trouble to incriminate him.
A String of Beads is the eighth Jane Whitefield novel. As with all series mysteries, we know that the protagonist will survive, but the author must make us care that she does so. With Jane, the reader is in awe of her cleverness and determination to protect her charge from whomever is trying to kill him. In this book, the childhood that Jane and Jimmy shared makes her even more determined to keep him safe and find out who is behind the murder and why Jimmy was chosen to be the “fall guy.”
Thomas Perry will keep you turning the pages ever more quickly with his inspiring heroine and brilliant plot. This is another terrific mystery from the author. He never disappoints.
You can read more about Thomas Perry at this web site.
Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.