Tag Archives: Jack Reacher

Book Review: The Sentinel, Lee Child/Andrew Child

This is the first Jack Reacher thriller since Lee Child announced that he would be passing the baton to his brother, Andrew, to continue the series. I’ve read all of the previous books, so was intrigued to see how the style of writing might change. For example, Lee Child has previously mentioned in interviews that, now Reacher is getting older, the pace of the books may have to slow down.

If anything, I think this book sees the pace increase. There is certainly more violence and Reacher is only too happy to hand out his own view of justice. It starts at a bar, where Reacher enjoys the music played by a band, and is appalled to find out that the management refused to pay them (and damaged one of their guitars). He takes matters into his own hands and sees that the band is compensated. This episode is by no means central to the story, it just sets the scene of Reacher taking the side of the underdog. That continues when he arrives in a town and sees Rusty Rutherford, an IT guy, under attack on the street. He steps in – and acts as his bodyguard for the rest of the story.

I always enjoy the Reacher books where he teams up with either old army buddies or some law enforcement agency. Here, the natural storyline might have been to work with Officer Rule, a woman officer in the local police who provides some background information on Rusty and seems amenable to Reacher’s charms. However, she remains a peripheral character – instead, Reacher works with Rusty and his colleague Sarah, formerly of the FBI. Later, we meant Agent Fisher – working for the FBI to infiltrate a gang of Russians working in the area. She and Reacher collaborate and manage to save each others necks at various times.

The plot starts to disappoint when Rusty and Sarah are desperate to find some computing servers that hold evidence that their software worked against hackers. We witness Jack Reacher trawling around town, trying to find a rack of black servers. They’ve been passed from one party to another and Reacher threatens or abuses everyone involved until they get the servers back. It’s just not the sort of scene Jack Reacher would normally care about – I appreciate that he’d like to help Rusty clear his name, but I’d rather he’d spent the book directly investigating the case of the missing journalist who was tortured early in the book.

Reacher books typically end with a final battle where he faces the toughest villain. It’s flagged several times in the book that a Russian gangster is arriving from Moscow to sort out his team, so it’s clear that Reacher will have to take him on. Despite having 3 strong characters to choose from, the authors leave Reacher to handle the battle solo. Fisher is out of action, Sands just gives him a lift by car and picks him up later (yes, really) and Officer Rule was an on-looker at the end (although she does offer to cook him a meal). Jack Reacher stories have had strong women characters at the centre of the action in the past (Casey Nice in Personal, Michelle Chang in Make Me, Sergeant Frances Neagley with several appearances), so I was surprised that the women in this story had supporting roles at best.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Book Review: The Affair, Lee Child

I bought a nice soft-back edition of this Jack Reacher thriller some time ago, but it was well worth re-reading. There has long been a gap in Reacher’s history – how did he go from being an elite investigator in the Military Police to travelling around America as a loner? This book fills in the gap and is one of the best in the series.

Reacher is assigned to go to Carter Crossing to shadow the town’s police department in their investigation of a murder. Although he’s supposed to be incognito, the police chief, beautiful Elizabeth Deveraux, unmasks him immediately. No matter, because the two develop a very close relationship working on the investigation together. The author plants seeds of doubt about Deveraux – perhaps she has a hazy past, taking revenge on former boyfriends? Could this murder, and two others of similarly beautiful young women, be her revenge after she was dumped by Captain Reed Riley, son of a US Senator? A side plot is that, sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime. In this case, Reacher wants to know why local militia were employed to defend the military base outside the boundary – leading to the senseless murder of a journalist and the brother of one of the murder/rape victims. He confronts Colonel Frazer of military liaison at his office in the Pentagon – did he authorise the cover-up to protect his investment made building relationships with the Senator?

I always enjoy the Reacher books where he teams up with locals to solve the case – and as a bonus, this book features Reacher’s favourite Sergeant, Frances Neagley.
Four stars

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Book Review: Past Tense, Lee Child

The annual publication of Lee Child’s brand new Jack Reacher thriller is always eagerly awaited. I received a lovely hardback edition of this one (it was purchased in an edition sold by Tesco in the UK, containing an exclusive short story: “The Fourth Man”).

Having read all the Jack Reacher books, I have to say this one isn’t one of the classics – for me, it took too long for the real story to begin. We follow a young, Canadian couple to a country motel following the breakdown of their car and Jack Reacher to the city of Laconia, the town where his father grew up. The motel, though, is not what it seems – the owners trap the Canadians in their room and set up a sinister gathering of like-minded individuals. Meanwhile, Reacher tracks down the location of his father’s family’s home and seeks accommodation – at the same motel. The final showdown is excellent and Reacher has lost none of his deadly skills.
Three stars

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Book Review: The Midnight Line, Lee Child

This is the 22nd book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and it continues where the 20th book, Make Me, finished. Any hope that Reacher’s collaborator in the previous book, Michelle Chang, would feature again were immediately dashed – but Reacher does work with an ad- hoc team in this one, and those tend to be the best of his adventures.

The premise of the book is that Reacher sees a small West Point ring in a pawn shop and decides to track down the (presumed female) owner and return it to her. Being an alumni himself, he feels a duty to help someone down on their luck. He allies himself with a detective, Terry Bramall, who also happens to be looking for the owner of the ring – employed by the beautiful sister of the owner. Finding the woman is only the beginning – the issues causing her to pawn the ring (battlefield injuries and drug addiction) are far harder to solve.

The next book in the series will be called Yesterday.

Four stars

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Book Review: The Hard Way, Lee Child

In a recent interview on BBC Radio 4, Lee Child was asked why Jack Reacher gets into so many tricky situations. The answer was simple – he keeps to himself pretty much all of the time, but a couple of times a year, trouble comes his way and he can’t leave it alone. Child has had no luck selling the idea of Reacher sitting drinking coffee all day to a publisher – so only the exceptional days get told in his books.

This book starts with Reacher drinking coffee in New York, minding his own business. A short time later, he’s in a swanky apartment helping to investigate the kidnap of a man’s wife and daughter. The first 24 hours are vital to the hunt – and Reacher is a witness who can help track down the mercenaries who took them.

Quickly, though, we find that all is not as it seems. The husband searching for his family is himself a shady character; a mysterious woman in an apartment opposite is keenly watching the comings/goings from the flat; the ransom demands jump up in multiples of millions, yet are paid in cash with little thought. As ever, it’s the details that matter – Jack Reacher misses little and is on hand to exact appropriate retribution.
Four stars

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Book Review: No Middle Name, Lee Child

This is a collection of short stories featuring Jack Reacher. Despite reading a few negative reviews, I found this book pretty good. I’m sure a lot of Jack Reacher fans will be interested to read about Reacher’s childhood – but I can imagine it would have been hard to explore that in a complete novel.

“Second Son” is set when Reacher is 13 and newly arrived at a military base. Whilst his upbringing is mentioned in other books, the relocation from one base to another is shown to be a big part of his life. He has to find his feet pretty quickly when surrounded by openly hostile kids – and his loathing for running means that in a fight-or-flight situation, the choice is already made.

“High Heat” is set a few years later – Reacher goes to the city at 16, purely to look around before visiting his brother. As a man, we see that he gets involved whenever he witnesses an injustice – as a young man, he was already inserting himself into adult conflicts, and somehow coming out on top despite tough odds.

“James Penney’s new Identity” stands out because Jack Reacher is really incidental to the main plot – I don’t think Lee Child has written many books without Reacher (any?), but this shows that he has more than enough ideas if he wanted to invent another character. But Reacher is so popular, you can’t blame him for giving the public what they want.

The best stories are at the start – the last few are shorter too, but by then I’d had a great time reading the book anyway.
Four stars

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Book Review: The Visitor/Running Blind, Lee Child

A friend sent me a link to some Jack Reacher quotes and I was delighted to discover that it listed a book in the series that I hadn’t read – “Running Blind”. I ordered it immediately – alas when it arrived, it turned out to be “The visitor”, a book I had already read, just published under another name in the U.S.

This book sees Jack Reacher in a relationship with Jodie, the high-flying daughter of his old boss, General Garber. It’s the closest he’s got to settling down – he inherited Garber’s old house (which sounds great by the way), he loves Jodie – all is well. Except that he cannot escape the nagging voice that tells him to move on – and eventually, he will.

The book centres on a series of macabre murders, where army women are found dead in a bath of green paint – cause of death, motive and method all unknown. In a side plot, Reacher sees that his favourite restaurant is being threatened by a protection racket – so he steps in, fearlessly as ever, to take on the thugs. Unfortunately, his brand of rough justice is witnessed by a couple of FBI agents, and Reacher is forcibly recruited by them to help investigate the bath tub murders. It turns out he knew a couple of the women involved, and was being followed as a suspect. He satisfies his yearning for travel by flying around the country investigating, accompanied by the lovely Special Agent Lisa Harper.

The book finishes with Reacher solving the case and his girlfriend’s career really taking off as she is made partner by her law firm. It’s clear their days together are numbered and by the next book, he’ll be a loner again.
Four Stars

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Book Review: Night School, Lee Child

For me, there’s a lot of suspense before I read a Jack Reacher thriller. A recent tradition is that Lee Child is interviewed by Phil Williamson Radio 5Live, discusses the book that’s just been published, and reveals the first line of the next book. So in September 2015, we knew the title was Night School and the first line would be: “In the morning they gave Reacher a medal, and in the afternoon they sent him back to school”. And in September 2016, he talked more about the plot. Then I received a lovely hardback edition of the book for Christmas and finally picked it up to read a week ago.  A long build-up, plenty of suspense – would the book be up to the usual standard?

Yes, of course it is.  It’s a flashback to the 1990’s, the days that Reacher was still in the army, at the top of his game, sent on a special investigation to find and destroy a terrorist cell in Germany.  The book features the enigmatic Frances Neagley as well, his top sergeant from the 110th Military Police.  It has all the hallmarks of a classic Jack Reacher thriller, even cheekily putting the standard description of him as “six feet five and two hundred fifty pounds”, even though Tom Cruise is probably picturing himself playing the role in the next movie as  I write this.  The book starts with the premise of an overheard conversation: “The American wants 100 million dollars” – Lee Child doesn’t disappoint.

Here’s the first line of the next book, which carries on from Make Me: “Jack Reacher and Michelle Chang spent three days in Milwaukee.  On the fourth morning, she was gone.”

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Book Review: Make Me, Lee Child

Make Me, Lee ChildThis is the 2015 Jack Reacher thriller which I received in a lovely hard back edition for Christmas. I was lucky to hear an interview with author Lee Child on radio 5Live last year, which ended with a reading from this book. It also revealed some interesting facts about the author:

  • He starts work on a new book on September 1st every year, a superstition based on the success of his first book “Killing Floor”
  • He was born in England (and went to the same school as one of my colleagues) but lives in America and writes in American English
  • His books often switch between narration in the first and third person, the former allowing Jack Reacher to speak for himself, the latter to allow scenes where Reacher is not present
  • He hints that he may end the series of Reacher novels after 21 books, based on some series he read as a young man that seemed about the right length
  • He doesn’t plan the whole book before writing it – this way, he doesn’t know what’s about to happen either and it’s more exciting (!)

Reacher has Chang for an accomplice, a beautiful ex-FBI agent, who is searching for her colleague Keever who disappeared – last known location, Mother’s Rest near Oklahoma City. The underlying mystery is one of the deepest in the series – in fact, it’s a long way into the book before we have a clue what is going on in the town of Mother’s Rest, and there’s still time for a plot twist at the end.

Will this be the penultimate book in the series? Jack Reacher shows vulnerability in this one, he’s actually hurt physically and that could carry into the next book. He also grows more attached to Chang than is usual and perhaps she’ll appear in the next book too – maybe he’ll settle down to a more stable investigative partnership (with benefits)? If he’s on schedule, then Lee Child has already started the book and may even know some of the answers.

Four stars


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Book Review: One Shot, Lee Child

One Shot by Lee ChildThis book was the first Jack Reacher thriller that I read, quite a few years ago. That copy came free with a copy of the London Evening Standard newspaper – it was probably about 50p at the time, but has since become a free paper handed out to the commuters of London every evening. I particularly wanted to re-read it because of the description of Jack Reacher that starts the book.
Jack Reacher's CV
This should be very useful for any Hollywood Producers who are looking to cast Jack Reacher in a film – particularly his height (6′ 5″), weight (220-250lbs) and chest (50″). Obviously, this is a big guy, and missing that point would be bound to annoy any diehard Reacher fans.

This is actually one of the better Reacher thrillers. The perfect case is presented to the police, James Barr is the obvious perpetrator of a horrific killing spree in Indiana. Even worse for Barr, Jack Reacher has seen it on the news and is travelling there to ensure he doesn’t get away with it. Yet there’s more to the case than first appears, calling for Reacher’s special investigative skills and his own brand of blunt justice.
Four stars

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