This is a less-than-compelling novel, apparently one of a series starring professional “disappearer” Jane Whitefield as the heroine. Jane is the underground go-to person for people in trouble who need to disappear in a hurry. She provides escape routes, new identities, and new lives, although not having read earlier Jane Whitefield mysteries by Perry, I don’t know why she feels compelled to engage in such a risky business, whether she takes payment, how she chooses who to help, how she funds her clandestine activities, etc. She is clearly well trained in everything from self-defense to evasive driving techniques and much more, but there is no hint as to why she is what she is and does what she does. She’s pretty awesome, but rather an enigma.
In any case, in Blood Money, Jane is approached by a young girl who is fleeing Mafia assassins. Rita grew up under horrible and abusive circumstances, and had finally secured a happy and comfortable existence as maid to a kindly old man, who turns out to be the brilliant accountant for all the U.S. mob families since the 1940s, when he was handed the first millions to hide. Bernie has a photographic memory, and keeps all the names, accounts numbers and figures in his head, but as his memory starts to yield to age, he realizes his usefulness has ended and that his days are therefore numbered. He arranges to be “killed” and does his own disappearance act, but the mob comes for Rita in hope that she knows where the accounts books were kept. On the run just a few steps ahead of mob killers, Rita seeks out Jane, who breaks her promise to her surgeon husband that she has put this life behind her and agrees to help the girl. The “dead” Bernie shows up out of concern for the maid he had befriended, and Jane takes them both under her protection, making her ultimately a mob target as well.
The plot of the novel is interesting as far as it goes, but too many questions about Jane Whitefield herself arose–at least in my mind–to enable me to enjoy the story. And then, author Perry bogs the story down by going into endless and excruciating detail at times on how the various Mafia families stab each other in the backs at the first opportunity—no surprise there!– and at other times goes into far too much detail on various other elements of the plot. All in all, a slightly interesting but mostly forgettable read.