A new approach to Reacher

Time to break up the Blue Prime promos with a review of someone else's book, since I've just finished A Wanted Man by Lee Child.

Two things you need to know:
1. It's Reacher
2. It's good
(opps, I just repeated myself there).

Somehow, I came late to the world of Reacher, picking up The Killing Floor for a buck at a charity booksale because I kept hearing this Child guy mentioned in the same reviews as people like Michael Connelly and Meg Gardiner. Having enjoyed it, I started reading the whole series (which was at least a dozen books at that point) and discovered something I love about Child's writing: each book is a completely different beast.

Some might say that's crap. In a one line description sense, each book is similar: Reacher, a hulk of a man1, travels to a new area, gets hooked into a crime and tries to do the right thing, discovers a conspiracy, ultimately getting on the wrong side of local law enforcement, kills a lot of people, then drifts off. But Child is great at taking that simple description and rearranging the elements: sometimes Reacher works with the local cops or feds, other times against; sometimes gets the girl, other times is rebuffed; sometimes the twist is the apparent good guy is bad, but Child doesn't do this enough to be predictable.

This book breaks the mold by giving us 100+ pages of Reacher, the huge man of action, sitting in a car seat.

Sometimes he's driving, other times a passenger; he gets out for coffee and gas a couple times, but goes right back in. 100 pages. And, despite a lot of reviewers hating this, I liked it, because it's a reminder that Reacher isn't just a random thug, he's also a thinker, who spends that 100 pages figuring out what's going on, why his companions are really doing what they're doing and who's telling lies (but not necessarily getting all of his deductions right).

There's also a nice touch where Child includes an incompetent cop named "Puller", which I took to be a dig at David Baldacci writing about a Reacher-clone with that name.

After he's out of the car, the story moves into more familiar Reacher territory, with plenty of twists to keep it interesting and the expected battle to finish it off (part of me was hoping Child would also do something new with the last 100 pages, but this still worked).

I didn't quite finish it in one day, but came close.

  • 1. I'll reserve judgment until I've seen it, and hope I'm wrong, but I doubt he looks like Tom Cruise.

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