RUN is a bit of a changeup for Andrew Grant. It’s a stand-alone work coming off of a two-year hiatus from the last installment of his fine David Trevellyan series. His protagonist is hardly a tough guy; as far as self-defense is concerned, he doesn’t know...jack. Differences in his prior work notwithstanding, RUN is a sure-footed thriller that will be welcomed by his stable of loyal readers while attracting new ones.
"Those who occasionally have the type of day feeling as if the world is conspiring against them will find much to enjoy here, particularly in the novel’s closing pages, which will have all who read them looking over their shoulders long after they’ve finished the book."
Grant’s Everyman is Marc Bowman, if you define an “everyman” as one who, as a general rule, is smarter than everyone in the room at any given point in time. Bowman is a computer consultant and software designer who is quite good at what he does, which includes going into companies and ferreting out problems and the proverbial mice in the woodwork that dull the cutting edge of IT companies. He’s been doing just that for AmeriTel, which is run by an old friend of his. Bowman, though, finds himself unexpectedly out of a job early one Monday morning when he is called into his boss’s office and given the heave-ho in less time than it takes to talk about it. His firing, at a particularly crucial time for AmeriTel, makes zero sense.
Bowman’s problems continue cascading from there. He gets into a huge argument with his wife (also employed by AmeriTel), who then walks out on him when he refuses to return some data that he surreptitiously took with him from AmeriTel. The data contains a separate project that he was working on and was preserved as a hedge. But that is just the beginning of an incredibly bad week for Bowman. His home is burglarized while he sleeps, and his data goes missing. The police are very unsympathetic; worse, dueling bands of DHS agents are after him, grabbing him here, taking him there, and generally tossing him from frying pans to fires and back again. Meanwhile, AmeriTel still wants its data back, but Bowman doesn’t have it entirely.
None of this makes any sense to Bowman, who is in way over his head. He is anything but a tough guy and finds himself buffeted from pillar to post. The problem is that he can’t trust anyone, especially his wife, who has a vested interest in AmeriTel herself. With respect to telling the good guys from the bad guys, Bowman isn’t entirely sure there are any good ones. And there may not be. He sorts things out in the end by taking the only way out that he can --- a surprising way that is not only startling but also very frightening.
RUN is arguably the most complex of Grant’s novels to date, and is not a book to race through, lest one lose track (in the words of a notorious limerick) of “who would do what and to whom.” Those who occasionally have the type of day feeling as if the world is conspiring against them will find much to enjoy here, particularly in the novel’s closing pages, which will have all who read them looking over their shoulders long after they’ve finished the book.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 17, 2014