By Gene Lyons
Updated December 12, 1997 at 05:00 AM EST

The Runaway

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How often can the basic elements of To Kill a Mockingbird be recycled? Perhaps indefinitely. The Runaway, set in rural Georgia shortly after the end of World War II, follows two boys — one black, one white — who stumble across a terrible secret. Could it be that a mythical white killer whom black folks call Pegleg actually exists? It’s a mystery most white citizens would like to keep hidden. Everybody, that is, but Sheriff Frank Rucker. Not one but two Harvard lawyers help the sheriff make his stand against the local sheetheads. Even if The Runaway has scarcely an unfamiliar character or situation, it’s an earnest, appealing tale all the same. B+

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The Runaway

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