Cover image for The face-changers : a novel
The face-changers : a novel
Perry, Thomas, 1947-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [1998]

Physical Description:
372 pages ; 25 cm
Can a woman who's rescued countless victims now save herself from an unknown enemy? After over a decade as a "guide" who helped people in trouble disappear, Jane Whitefield has promised her new husband that she will never work again. Then she is asked to perform her magic just one last time to help a plastic surgeon who becomes the target of killers seeking to eliminate evidence of their patron's change of face.
General Note:
The fourth book in the Jane Whitefield series.
Geographic Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



After promising her new husband, Dr. Carey McKinnon, that she will retire from her job of helping people disappear, Jane Whitefield takes on one final case, that of a famed plastic surgeon who once was her husband's mentor, only to come face to face withthe deadly and ruthless Face-Changers.

Author Notes

Thomas Perry was born in Tonawanda, New York, in 1947. He graduated from Cornell University in 1969 and earned a Ph. D. in English Literature from the University of Rochester in 1974.

Perry's novels, successful both critically and with the public, are suspenseful as well as comic. Butcher's Boy received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel in 1983, and another one of his novels has been adapted in the movie, The Guide (1999). His other novels include: Death Benefits, Nightlife, Fidelity, and Strip.

(Bowker Author Biography) Won an Edgar for The Butcher's Boy, and Metzger's Dog was a New Yor Times Notable book of the Year. Vanishing Act was chosen as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. Perry's other works include: Death Benefits, The Face Changers, Shadow Woman, Dance for the Dead, and Blood Money. He lives in Southern California with his wife and two daughters.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Now married to a surgeon, Cary McKinnon, and living in upstate New York, Jane Whitefield has retired from her mostly illegal and always dangerous career as a "guide" --someone who helps people in trouble disappear. Then her husband's mentor, a world-famous plastic surgeon, Richard Dahlman, shows up wounded and wanted for murder, and Cary asks Jane to help Dahlman disappear, at least until the police realize he has been framed. Dahlman, Jane learns, is the victim of a group she calls the Face-Changers, who are using Jane's name and reputation to destroy rather than protect the clients they hide. This fourth Jane Whitefield novel could serve as a textbook on how to construct an elaborate plot that, like a Swiss watch, never lets its complex underpinnings overshadow its elegant appearance. The momentum never flags, and the suspense constantly builds, yet this is no cheap action thriller in which a building is blown up every few pages for lack of anything else to do. Details count for all in Jane's world, where everything and everyone is potentially threatening; her ability to instantaneously recognize danger in mundane events (an assassin giving himself away by turning into the wind to light a cigarette) is what keeps her alive and what gives this series its special cachet--as if Sherlock Holmes had to do his thinking on the fly rather than sitting comfortably in front of a fire. Like Ridley Pearson's thrillers, the Whitefield novels bring plotting and suspense to center stage without sacrificing character. That is no small achievement, the equivalent of a great architect also excelling at portraiture. (Reviewed April 15, 1998)0679453032Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Jane Whitefield, last seen in Perry's Shadow Woman, is an alluring operative of Indian heritage who helps people disappear. It is an arcane pursuit, involving myriad skills and constant vigilance. In fact, when Jane gets married to surgeon Carey McKinnon, she hopes to give it up and lead a normal life. Unfortunately, McKinnon's mentor, plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Dahlman, who is accused of murdering his assistant and has been shot and wounded by police pursuers, is in urgent need of her services; and since McKinnon is convinced he is innocent, Jane agrees to employ her expertise one more time. Thus begins Perry's latest, which soon begets layer upon layer of deception and intrigue. It seems that Dahlman himself, with a series of operations, had helped someone attain a new identity, and that he is being pursued not by the police but by men intent on killing him for what he knows. But who are they? Re-establishing some of her old creepy contacts, Jane becomes convinced the villains are in the business of frightening people into believing they are in danger, then collecting vast sums to help them vanish. And now that the FBI is after Jane for Dahlman's escape, she is beleaguered on two fronts. This is really a prolonged chase novel, enlivened by some smooth action writing and a remarkable mastery of escape techniques‘one would hate to be a debt collector in search of the author. It does seem in the end, however, an overly complex structure that obliges a reader to put up with long passages filled with nothing but the minutiae of pursuit and paranoia. The effect is somewhat claustrophobic, and Jane, for all her toughness and smarts, is not a particularly enlivening companion. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Perry (Shadow Woman, LJ 5/1/97) has been writing great books for years and with his Jane Whitefield series has hit his stride. In this fourth title, Jane is asked by her surgeon husband to help his old mentor, Dr. Richard Dahlman, who has been accused of murdering his research partner. In her attempts to keep Dahlman out of the hands of the law and far away from the two men who want to kill him, she finds that someone is using her name to make people disappear permanently, and Dahlman has gotten caught in the backlash. In her quiet and resourceful manner, Jane goes about hiding the doctor, keeping her husband safe, and finding the vicious killers responsible for a number of murders. The plot is full of heart-stopping suspense, Native American lore, and engaging characters, but the real pull is how Jane will surmount adversity and still keep her honor and ethics intact. For all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/98.]ÄJo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Heights-University Heights P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Janet McAffee stepped out of the Baltimore Medical Center and winced as the icy air coming off the Inner Harbor lacerated her cheeks and forehead. Her eyes began to water as she lowered her head and searched for the taxi cab. At one time she would have called the sensation pain, but that was before she had learned what pain was. The chemical peel had only left her skin feeling tender and exposed, the way a sore tooth would feel if she drank iced tea.   The part of the makeover that had taken her by surprise was the liposuction. That had been the only part of the process that she had been secretly looking forward to, because it seemed like cheating away all the days she had convinced herself she was too busy to exercise and too hungry to turn down dessert. But the liposuction had cost her a week of hot, fiery misery before she had felt like moving again. Because they had sucked most of the fat from the places that a person rested on, stillness had not offered much relief. The doctors never told you that. Instead they drew lines on a photograph of your face to show you how clever the cut-and-stitch surgery was going to be. The mild discomfort from that was already half-forgotten and the scars were almost invisible.   She spotted the taxi cab parked beside the curb just outside the parking barrier, where the driver had stopped so he wouldn't have to pull a ticket from the machine to come into the lot. She resolved to be more specific next time she ordered a cab. She squared her shoulders and prepared to step away from the shelter of the big medical building into the wind. She felt a hand touch her elbow and shrank from it, tightening her muscles to clamp her arm to her side.   Janet whirled. A tall, thin woman with long black hair was standing beside her, looking into her eyes. The woman seemed to note her startled reaction, but it seemed neither to surprise nor particularly worry her. She said quietly, "Go back into the building and wait for me just inside the door."   "But that's my cab. I was just on my way--"   The woman interrupted. "Didn't they tell you I would come for you? It's time." Her eyes betrayed a small glint of amusement as she watched Janet's face.   Janet sensed a sudden weakness in her arms and legs. They felt heavy, but somehow empty, as though there were no bones. "All right," she said.   She stepped back in and watched through the glass door as the new woman walked up to the driver, said something to him, gave him some money, and stepped back to watch him wheel out and drive away. She turned and walked across the driveway and through the door, then kept going past Janet without looking at her. After five paces, she stopped, turned, and said, "This is it. If you're coming, come now."   Janet nodded and took a step. She could not help wondering if this single step was one of those enormous ones, like a step off the railing of a ship, but then she reminded herself that this wasn't like that at all. She had taken that step months ago, on the night when she had decided to make the telephone call. She had been busy preparing for this day for a long time--first quietly moving out of the condominium into the small apartment where everything was unlisted and nobody but the police knew she lived there, then enduring the makeover. This was only the next step, not the first.   She followed the tall, dark woman down the hallway and out the front door, then to a small green car that looked a lot like the one that Janet had owned until--No, she didn't want to follow her memory backward. This was a new beginning.   Janet got into the passenger seat and closed the door just as it began to move. The woman accelerated away from the curb and into traffic, then moved quickly into the next lane, then turned, turned again, and headed east. She was not exactly a reckless driver, but she was aggressive and sure, and those were qualities that made Janet uneasy.   Janet said, "I didn't think you would come for me here."   "That's why I did," said the dark woman. Then she seemed to change, as though she had thought about it and decided that there was no practical reason not to be friendly. "Everyone who has been wondering if you might try to disappear assumes that you'll do it in certain ways. What they're waiting for is to see you some night slinking out of your condo carrying a suitcase. Nobody disappears from a doctor's office." She glanced at Janet. "How did it go, by the way?"   Janet shrugged. "He says I'm doing great. I'm not supposed to see him again for six months."   "He did a wonderful job on you. Big improvement."   "Thank you," she said mechanically. It was a shock that this woman, who seemed so strange, would say something as normal and human as an empty compliment. "How do you know? We've never met before."   "I've seen a lot of pictures of you." She made another turn. "What have other people said? Has anyone who knew you before the surgery seen you since?"   Janet shook her head. "I'm a little low on the invitation list lately, and I didn't go out at all while my face still made people stare. The doctors and nurses are the only ones. And cab drivers."   The woman swung into a covered parking ramp, went up two levels, then stopped in an empty space and turned off the engine.   "Why are we stopping?"   "I need to give you some things." She reached into her purse and produced a ticket in an airline envelope. "Your flight leaves in two hours."   "Where am I going?" She pulled aside the corner of the envelope and read the ticket. "Chicago?"   "You'll be there for a while, but it's just a stop on the way. It will keep you out of sight until your plastic surgery is completely healed. You should show up at your final destination looking like a finished product--face, body, hair, wardrobe, credentials."   She handed Janet a small wallet that was stiff with cards. "Here's your ID."   Janet looked at the MasterCard on top. "Mary Anders. Is that going to be my name?"   "Just for this trip. You'll need to flash identification to get on the plane. If something goes wrong or you're stalled, you can't even get a room without a credit card. Use those."   Janet looked at the driver's license. The picture was the one she'd taken in a photo booth a week ago, but it had been touched up. It looked to her as though someone had scanned it into a computer and adjusted the color and texture to hide the surgery. She gazed at the picture. It was a young, pretty woman, but it was still her face. Maybe she would look like that after everything healed, and it made her hopeful again. She put the wallet in her purse with the ticket.   "Now let's have yours."   "Mine? What?"   "Your license, credit cards, and so on. Whatever you have with Janet McAffee written on it has to go."   "Oh, of course," she said. It had not occurred to her that she would have to lose things that took so little space. But of course she did. The dark woman watched impatiently while she took out her wallet, removed her driver's license, stared at it for a second as though she were saying good-bye to it, and set it down on the seat beside her.   "You'd better give me the whole thing. There's nothing in there that you're going to need."   "But what about later?"   The dark woman looked at her sympathetically and patted her arm. "I wish we had more time together right now, before you get on that plane, so I could help you through the hard parts. I really do. This has all been done before, and there's a right way. We don't know how long it's going to take for things in Baltimore to improve. It might be that those men will get caught trying to put a bomb in your condo tonight, or try to hire an outside killer who is really an undercover cop. Stranger things have happened. But you have to be prepared to wait a long time, and that means doing everything as though it were for keeps. It's not that much harder." Excerpted from The Face-Changers by Thomas Perry All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.