Reviews by title
Reviews by author
Onyx reviews: Run
by Douglas E. Winter
"You should know right now, if you haven't figured it out yet, that I'm
not the good guy." So says Burdon Lane, the protagonist of Run, the
first novel by attorney, horror critic and anthology editor Douglas E. Winter.
Lane may not be the good guy, but he's the nearest thing this gritty, violent
story has to a hero. Lane is a gunrunner and the "run" is a big
arms-for-cash deal that takes him, along with his co-conspirators, from D.C. to
the ghettoes of New York. Lane works for UniArms, Incorporated, a legitimate gun
business that fronts for the illegal activities of owner Jules Berenger.
Berenger will supply guns to anyone with the cash to pay for them. The current
deal has two million dollars' worth of bearer bonds at stake.
Other things appear to be at stake, though, which worries Lane. Something
doesn't feel right. Nothing feels right, in fact. All the wrong people are
involved and no one is playing by the usual rules. Berenger expects Lane to be
the dutiful soldier he has always been and just do his job, not ask any
questions. That is Berenger's first mistake.
Lane lives in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., which he refers to
as Dirty City. Lane is a racist and a cold-blooded killer in addition to being
an arms dealer, but Winter manages to make the reader root for him. Like most
rough-edged heroes, Lane has a sense of duty and a code of ethics that govern
The gun deal goes wrong, a politically sensitive figure is assassinated, and
Lane finds himself running from and with Harlem gangs, his former coworkers and
every three-letter law enforcement agency. In the aftermath of the debacle, Lane
finds himself paired up with an unlikely partner, a hard-case gang member called
Jinx. It is never certain from one moment to the next if these two are going to
help each other or if they are just waiting for the opportunity to shoot each
other in the back.
The novel is told in the form of a stream-of-consciousness discourse. There
are no quotation marks in the entire book, though there is plenty of dialogue.
This makes it occasionally difficult to differentiate between the words of other
characters and Lane's monologue, but the technique pulls the reader fully into
the story, right into the midst of shoot-outs—a particularly memorable one
takes place just after the vows are said at a wedding—and harrowing getaways.
Every bullet is personal, every wound painful, every death vivid.
This is not a novel for the weak of heart. The language is strong and
decidedly un-PC. Lane's conversation is full of racial epithets, uttered in a
completely casual, disarming manner. The gang members are unflinchingly real.
Even so, Winter never misses the opportunity to show a human aspect in even the
most lethal characters—or the traces of animal in the supposedly good ones.
Run is about guns. Expensive rifles, powerful pistols, cheap
revolvers, all manner of guns. In the end, Lane, who never goes anywhere without
one pistol in a shoulder holster and another tucked into the back of his pants,
has a revelation about guns and their ready availability. He is ultimately able
to unload the bullets and let his weapons slip from his hands. The moralistic
passage may seem heavy-handed and preachy, but when it is the newspapers and not
novels that tell of guns in the hands of six-year olds, perhaps Winter has a
Web site and all contents © Copyright Bev Vincent 2007. All rights reserved.