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With a mirror on a stick
on 12 January 2007
Jack Reacher is my very favorite fictional Tough Guy action figure. He could probably get Iraq squared-away single-handed. Unfortunately, his creator, Lee Child, seems to be giving him R&R for most of THE HARD WAY.
Ex-Army Military Police major Reacher, now demobbed from the service with the end of the Cold War and on the lam from a normal existence, is in New York City. Here, he becomes employed by the head of a mercenary-for-hire company, Edward Lane, to investigate the kidnapping of the latter's wife, Kate, and young daughter, Jade. Over the course of the first few chapters, $10.5 million are paid out in several installments, but with no return of the hostages. Kate and Jade are presumed dead, and Edward wants revenge. Jack's new instructions are to find the perp, at the conclusion of which Reacher will be paid $1 million. Complications arise when Jack discovers that Lane's previous wife, Anne, was also kidnapped and subsequently found dead. Anne's sister is convinced Edward was behind Anne's murder, as does ex-FBI agent Lauren Pauling, who's residual guilt from not having solved the first case compels her to team with Reacher on this one.
It isn't until page 342 of this 371-page book that Jack swings into action by breaking the gun arms of three bad guys with an iron fire poker. Up until then, Reacher is non-violently investigating, with a periodic time-out for sack time with the engaging Pauling. The book might as well be entitled JACK'S WORKING VACATION, and the role of Reacher himself could be filled by any world-weary police detective or private eye that's been featured in any other fictional series that you've ever read. Even Dirty Harry, knowing how to "make my day", shot an occasional scumbag at various times during a film to keep things interesting for the viewer over the long haul. It isn't until the last few pages that Reacher becomes satisfyingly lethal with the help of a mirror on a stick.
Mind you, THE HARD WAY isn't a bad book when considered in a vacuum. But, compared to the others in the series, it had me yawning.