My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Firstly, I’m more of a fantasy or sci-fi man myself, so this wasn’t a book that I would usually read (or listen to in this case). Crime thrillers don’t particularly capture my attention but with Jack Reacher by Lee Child I thought I’d try something different. Jack is an ex-military cop who drifts from town to town, gets involved in mischief, kills bad guys, gets the girl, acts first then thinks later, etc. He’s what Americans would call a “bad- ass”. I’m not going to provide a summary of the story, the blurb on the jacket does a great job at that, suffice to say that it reads like something out of a 1980s action movie.
As I listened to the audiobook I noticed that the narrator frequently paused. When checking out the text in the book itself I realised that this was due lots of remarkably short, sharp and punchy sentences (possibly to try to build up the suspense and tension?) and its all written in the first person. I can image that it would be a somewhat irritating novel to read because of this.
The characters themselves were very stereotypical: the lead was a tough male and not a particularly complex character: ex-military with black and white attitudes when it came to situations. Perhaps Reacher is developed more in further books in the series? At no point did you worry that he would be killed off despite the various threats to his life.
I felt somewhat sorry for the “strong” female character in the book: Roscoe. Although she is Reacher’s girlfriend she seems to be constantly the victim, requiring his protection and when she does come up with some theories on why the events are happening in the way they are, she turn out to be wrong. I guess my point is why try to promote her as this “strong” person when she’s clearly just another character?
Anyway, Reacher’s logical analysis of situations, interspersed with extreme violence, is what draws you into this book. The plotting is well placed leaving the reader wondering how Reacher will survive in the circumstances he finds himself in, but you know he always will … somehow.
Of course the plot is unbelievable and improbable but the book certainly was clever, entertaining and very well controlled when it came to letting the story slowly unfold. This is entertaining fiction and while there are lots of convenient coincidences they all add to the enjoyment. Child also clearly put some effort into researching impressive facts concerning how money flows in a country to what sort of damage a specific weapon or bullet will do.
Overall I enjoyed this book much more than I was expecting to, and I think others will enjoy it too. This isn’t a book for younger readers as some of the violence is graphic making it probably one of the best examples of man-lit (is that a real word?) around. I’m happy enough to give some more of the books in the series a read based on what’s on offer here.
“Evaluate. Long experience had taught me to evaluate and assess. When the unexpected gets dumped on you, don’t waste time. Don’t figure out how or why it happened. Don’t recriminate. Don’t figure out whose fault it is. Don’t work out how to avoid the same mistake next time. All of that you do later. If you survive.”