It is impossible to pigeonhole Run, Rose, Run, the collaboration between songbird Dolly Parton and the most prolific collaborator ever James Patterson. Basically, this novel is the story of a country waif with a past who makes it big, really big in country music overnight, really overnight.

The hook in Run, Rose, Run is the opening chapter where AnnieLee Keyes jumps off her hotel balcony. Why? The story is then told in flashback.

AnnieLee Keyes shows up in Nashville. Within a week of showing up, living on the streets, and singing in a small country music bar she meets and catches the eye of country legend Ruthanna Ryder (aka the fiction version of Dolly Parton). It only takes 200 pages for AnnieLee Keyes to record a demo, turn down a contract with one country label, sign with a bigger label and get an interview with Rolling Stone.

The problem is AnnieLee Keyes has a secret that the authors keep hinting at and it has to be pretty big. There are some people out to hurt her and they probably have something to do with that secret. It is a good thing she has bar singer Ethan Blake to protect her as best he can. It does take a long, long time for that secret to come out.

Though highly enjoyable and well written, the reader really needs to forego any sense of verisimilitude to enjoy Run, Rose, Run. If this is supposed to be a thriller about a waif making reaching country music stardom it reads more like a pastel colored fairy tale with a bit of sour candy thrown in to keep the suspense going.

Run, Rose, Run is also as much about supposedly retired country legend Ruthanna Ryder Dolly Parton as it is about up and comer AnnieLee Keyes. In fact, Ryder is somewhat better fleshed out as a character than the novel’s main character.

Run, Rose, Run is highly enjoyable if you are looking for a nice read about country music and a fictional legend of the genre. As a thriller, it is a very light read.

Run, Rose, Run
Dolly Parton and James Patterson
Little, Brown and Company 2022
439 pages

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