Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Let's talk about literary crushes for a minute, shall we? Don't deny it. Everybody has one. There is the Edward/Jacob crowd. There is the Jamie from Outlander crowd. There is the Mr. Darcy crowd. I would like to share with you one of mine - Jack Reacher. Imagine trying to duplicate him in real life:
Wanted: Hard-bodied anti-hero, 6'5", 250 pounds, 50" chest. Can defeat crowds of evil-doers with nothing more than his bare hands. Champions the underdog, crushes the oppressor with single-minded tenacity. Strongly appealing to women. Ex-military. Wealthy, but owns no material assets. Roams the country looking for a cause. Scarred physically and maybe a little mentally. Speaks multiple languages. Admired by Stephen King.
So I guess it shouldn't surprise you when I say that in all 14 of Lee Child's novels, the main attraction isn't necessarily the conflict, but Jack Reacher himself. I could sum up each and every one of the installments of "manfiction" by saying that Reacher finds bad guys (usually having something to do with the military) who are after money and power. Bad guys are usually bothering a good guy (or gal), and Reacher comes to their aid. Some people get thrown under the bus. Reacher usually scores romantically. And he always kicks ass.
So here we are with our man Jack, in the middle of nowhere, snowbound, after a bus accident. Something, as usual, is rotten in Denmark, or in this case Bolton South Dakota, and the local law enforcement needs some help from The Man. There are drugs, an old grandmotherly witness, a threat of a prison riot, and a Mexican war lord. But time is ticking down from 61 hours down to zero, and we have a sneaking suspicion that when the clock runs out, things are not going to end well.
In unraveling Bolton's secrets, Reacher tries to gain assistance from his old 110th Special Unit in Virginia and has a little phone flirtation with a mysterious female that has his old job. It is in this voice that Reacher may have met his match.
Everything feels just a little bit different this time around. Reacher seems to be slightly out of sorts, and probably for the first time in his life, he's being beaten at his own game. Reacher begins to doubt himself, which scares me. Even his sexual exploits are all verbal and not physical. Combine all of that with this constant, unwavering countdown, and I thought my nerves were going to explode. And for the first time ever in the series, Mr. Child, damn him and his evil little heart, decides to leave us flapping in the wind. Is Reacher freaking dead or alive? (Well, there is book number 15 coming out in October, so I am hoping for the best. But still.)
Up until this latest installment, you absolutely DO NOT have to read these books in order. Sure, there is an episode where you learn about how and why Reacher left the military. You get insight on his parents and his brother. But these are not critical pieces of information. I am a psycho when it comes to reading things in order, so trust me on this one. Which one should you read first? Pick one. You won't be disappointed.
Dick Hill is the amazing narrator for the series. His short. clipped. sentences. and hardened voice is and will forever be Jack's first person narrative. If a decision was ever made to find a new narrator, I would have heart failure. I'm curious if I could listen to Dick Hill narrate anything else...
4.5 out of 5 stars