Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Rune novels

Jeffery Deaver is a celebrated bestselling novelist. He's also a versatile and cunning shoirt story writer. But you probably know all this.

Whenever somebody brings him up I ask if they've read the Rune novels. Many people say they haven't. They're my favorite among all his books. Here's what his website has to say about the first Rune book Manhattan is My Beat:

Manhattan Is My Beat (1988)

"Five feet two inches of slick repartee, near-purple hair, and poetic imagination, twenty-year-old Rune hasn't been in Manhattan for very long. But she's crafty enough to have found a squatter's paradise in an empty TriBeCa loft, and a video store job that feeds her passion for old movies. It's a passion she shares with her favorite customer, Mr. Kelly, a lonely old man who rents the same video over and over. The flick is a noir classic based on a real-life unsolved bank heist and a million missing dollars. It's called Manhattan Is My Beat.

"That's the tape Rune is picking up from Mr. Kelly's shabby apartment when she finds him shot to death. The police suspect a robbery gone wrong, but Rune is certain the key to solving the murder is hidden somewhere in the hazy, black-and-white frames of Mr. Kelly's beloved movie. But as Rune hits the mean streets of New York to find answers, she gets caught up in a dangerous adventure more chilling than anything Hollywood could dream up. As her story draws to its terrifying conclusion, Rune's final close-up may include the killer of a co-star."

Clever as the plots are (and you'd expect nothing less from Deaver), it's Rune herself who carries the three novels-- the other two are Death of A Blue Movie Star and Hard News--in her pursuit to a) find out Who She Really Is in the Existential Sense b) keep recreating herself until Something More Appealing Comes along. She's genuinely tough, too, in a wryly belligerent sort of way. One way or the other she does what she wants to.

One other feature of the novels is the view of late-80s early-90s Manhattan as seen through the eyes of a punk rocker who also channels the 60s on occasion. She makes a great sradonic reporter from the war zone.

These are early Deaver books but the skills that have taken him to the bestseller lists are already in place. He is a sleek gifted storyteller and the Rune books are among the best of his tales.

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