I get the impression that this is the book that Lee Child has always wanted to write. The lone hero up against the family controlled town is a theme we are familiar with from all those old Western films we used to watch and it is brought bang up to date with this effort. It is no coincidence that the book is set in the heart of cowboy country in Nebraska.
I can't fault the book. I doubt this will be anyone's first exposure to Jack Reacher therefore you will know what to expect. He gets into scrapes he could avoid but chooses not to and he knows just how much violence is required to get out of these scrapes. His knack of being always (well almost allways) right can be a tad annoying at times, perhaps he is just TOO infallible, but that's one of the joys of this series. He's not a superman but equally he's not an everyman. He's jack Reacher, he has his standards and he will stick to them.
Plot? Well 15 books into the series this is possibly the most believeable plot of them all. It is genuinely thrilling and as the book reaches its climax it becomes increasingly difficult to put down. In fact as you may guess from this review, I got this book this morning and have read it virually non-stop since getting home which by my reckoning means it took me just over 9 hours to read, which may suggest a "slight" read but believe me it really means it grips from page 1 and won't let go.
I've had my doubts about some previous volumes in this series, but 61 Hours and now this one have re-established my faith in Lee Child. One problem. Since I've read this one so soon after publication it will be ages till the next one comes out. I may have to return to some of the earlier books to pass the time.
on 20 October 2010
This was another fine example of Lee Child's incredible writing talents which is why it is being given the three star rating, because even though it was really well written and laid out with plenty of action and mystery to it that kept me reading to find out more, I was disappointed.
This was supposed to be a follow on from 61 hours, which was why I bought this book, because I wanted to know what happened to Reacher and if he escaped, instead, as pleased as I was that he did (obviously) survive, it offered only the vaguest of explanations and didn't even bother giving a full recount of how he managed to get out of his predicament at the end of 61 hours.
Impressive piece of writing, cannot wait for another, but I feel it could have recounted Reachers escape at the end of 61 hours.
on 12 October 2010
I have been a big fan of the Jack Reacher series for years, so it's sad to give this new novel a 2 star review. But this is probably the worst - or worst equal - book so far.
Child's best books have interesting, clever plot twists - KILLING FLOOR, THE VISITOR, ONE SHOT - or at the least, interesting settings or subject matter - the one on the militia base, say, or PERSUADER, or THE ENEMY. And another big plus was how varied his books are - Reacher remains the same, but the situations were all different. But now it seems that Child is repeating himself, because this feels like the third time we're doing ECHO BURNING.
ECHO BURNING was a pretty good one: Jack wanders in to a small rural town, gets involved with a woman trapped in an awful situation, and sorts it out with his usual satisfying blend of extreme violence and cleverness. Then we had NOTHING TO LOSE, which until now was the worst in the series, and it was essentially a pale retread of the same plot, except this time there were two small rural towns, and Jack spent about half the book driving back and forth between them.
You can tell when Child is spinning his wheels, because Jack does a lot of driving back and forth in this one.
Jack turns up in a little town whose name I have already forgotten, and I read this last week. This town is home to about ten people, who are extremely sketchily portrayed. There's Vince (or was it Vinnie?) who runs a hotel; a maid; a doctor and his wife; a Damsel in Distress; her sleazy abusive husband; and some bad guys related to said sleazebag.
The bad guys, the Duncans, are three brothers whom Child never bothers to differentiate or individualise. There's no reason we need three of them when they're all basically the same person. Equally, he never bothers giving the doctor or his wife names, even though they show up a lot and have important roles in the plot. The whole thing feels paper-thin.
When auxiliary bad guys are required, Child sends in multiple interchangeable Nebraskan football players (whom Reacher beats savagely but repetitively) and sundry Iranians, Syrians and Italians (who are part of the unconvincing organized crime plot and who basically cancel each other out entirely). Again, nothing feels like it has any real thought behind it. It feels like working to formula, and that's exactly the opposite of what makes this series enjoyable.
A word on the overarching plot: it all hinges on a mysterious cargo being smuggled in from Canada. Child seems to feel that the nature of this cargo is so intriguing that the reveal constitutes a surprise worth waiting for. But, unusually for a Jack Reacher plot, you may - like me - figure it out within fifty pages or so. And it isn't worth waiting for even if you didn't.
Perhaps two books in one year (this and the underwhelming, three-star 61 HOURS) was a mistake? Please, Jack, don't come back until you have something clever to do? I don't just stick around for the violence.
"To be continued" it said at the end of the last book, ending on a bit of a cliff-hanger. That kind of raised expectations that this would be a continuation of that book, but no this is a stand alone story although Reacher carries forward some injuries and there is a very brief explanation as to how he got them.
The iconic loner/drifter Reacher is in bleak Nebraska and gets caught up in a region ruled by the Duncan family who are waiting for a mysterious shipment and Reacher seems to be an obstacle. The last book "61 Hours" had a strong element of waiting for something to come in, and we have seen quite a bit of Reacher in bleak American towns, so there were elements that felt familiar. Reacher also discovers that a girl went missing many years ago and once his sense of justice kicks in, there is no way he can leave until he resolves things.
Typical Reacher then, a page turner with a great character. Perhaps too samey to other Reacher stories to be one of the author's best, but it is still sucks you in and makes you want to read just one more page.
on 9 November 2010
I have been a fan of Lee Child ever since I read his first book 12 years ago. I avidly await the next Jack Reacher instalment and have recommended his books to a number of friends who are equally hooked. I have to say that Worth Dying For is a bit of a disappointment. The book plodded through to the end with turgid writing, a poor plot, stated the obvious and with little wit in the dialogue, and bodies piling up. I get the impression that Mr Child's publishers were pressing him to rush out another novel within six months (readers usually wait a year between instalments). I am sure that he did his best but I am afraid the haste shows. Nevertheless I hope this is just a blip and that Jack Reacher will be back on form in the next novel.
on 13 November 2010
I have enjoyed most Child/Reacher novels and keep coming back despite growing concerns that Child has done Reacher to death.
And that's probably because this is again an exciting read, in many respects, and full of action. The cores of the story are the delivery of some mystery cargo (type only revealed towards the end of the book, so I won't give it away) and a 25 year old community mystery (again, I'll avoid more specific reference).
But for fans the concerns are also many.
For a start this book is stand-alone and not a sequel to '61 Hours', despite a passing reference to what happened in the earlier novel. Those hanging on for the continuation will feel as though they have been duped.
And the formula has becoming tiring - Reacher ends up in a small country town, is made to feel unwelcome and feels obliged to seek out and right some wrongs. (If I were American I wouldn't be too thrilled about how parts of rural America are portrayed). And our Reacher today is all about brute force, unlike the earlier days when a lot of sound thinking also helped him solve problems.
And the ingredients in this novel just went a little too far for me - not only do we have a dominant local family as the bad guys, but we also have Italians, Lebanese and Iranians in the picture with their only role being to provide more action as they go about killing each other.
Child and Reacher have been great together, but I think it's time to move on as the sameness has become boring and the extremes just too far-fetched. 7/10 (Kindle version)
This is a very enjoyable, vintage Reacher adventure. It starts well, slows a bit in the middle, but then picks up with a high body count towards the end. The plot is pleasingly complex and all the strands are sewn up neatly and logically by the end.
It kicks off shortly after 61 Hours. Yes Reacher is alive, although you won't find out how he survived until about a third of the way through.
Reacher is in rural Nebraska. He's on his way to Virginia and only intends to stop for a night, when he is drawn into what initially looks like a domestic dispute but ends up being something much bigger. The town is under the control of a very unpleasant family called the Duncans, who own a transportation company. The local farmers are dependent on the company and therefore live in fear of them. The Duncans have an important shipment coming in, which has been delayed. This is causing problems for their customer and for the customers of their customer. Consequently a food chain of increasingly nasty villains gets involved, with lots of double crossing and mind games going on. Tied into all this somehow is the mystery of a local girl who disappeared 25 years ago and whose body has never been found.
The setting adds a lot to the tension. Reacher needs to hide in a flat and empty landscape where a man can be seen a mile away, with the locals unwilling to help a stranger.
There is one section in the middle that reminded me of Nothing To Lose, with its endless trudging around small town Colorado in the dark, but this lull was temporary and the momentum picked up quickly again. I also liked the way that Lee Child incorporates Reacher's physical limitations. Reacher is no genius this time around: his deductions are logical and he misses a couple of pretty obvious tricks. All in all, it's another nail biting installment in a terrific series.
on 26 January 2011
What a disappointment - a continuation of 61 hours? No. I paragraph covered how Reacher escaped and a poor paragraph that was.
Thriller? the only thrill I got was finishing the book and yep you got it - I thought 'er'
Having said that, I did get excited at page 166 when the book actually started oh and then it flopped. A few chapters in the book were worth reading
Reacher in a deserted town in Nebraska and the story centres the criminal family the 'Duncans' a family of bullies consisting of 4 men (and a battered wife) who manage to bully a town of 40 odd farms and others. Whilst waiting for a mysterious van delivery, which has been delayed, Reachers natural ability of attracting 'trouble' kicks off events leading to the Duncans bringing in two 'tough guys' sent by their 'clients' to add to their existing team, to bring down Reacher. When this doesn't happen two more are sent from the third link and then the fourth link with the 5th link in the chain remaining anonymous. Yes it is really as ridiculous as it sounds.
Reacher becomes a 'thug' and inflicts more injuries than are necessary because his sensibilities are offended. I absolutely love Reacher but not in this book. Where was his usual sense of right -v- wrong? His super human ability of resolving difficulties and escaping with a scrape or two?
I found this book painful and instead of reading it in the normal two sittings it took double the time.
Whether Lee Child used a ghost writer or he is simply all 'written out' who knows but it is not a book worthy of a 'best selling author'. This seems to be an endemic problem at the moment with all my favourite and 'best selling authors' and loyality cannot be expected it has to be deserved. I can see the likes of Lisa and Meg Gardiner, Karen Rose, Karin Slaughter etc taking of the best selling authors list at least they are currently writing books WORTH paying FOR!!!
on 30 December 2010
It should perhaps be noted at the outset that readers waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak, after the cliffhanger ending of "61 Hours," the previous book in the series [of which this is the 15th], are - initially at least - in for a disappointment, for the explanation [such as it is] comes pretty much only by references to Reacher having been badly hurt, as well as descriptions of specific effects of the trauma sustained in the closing pages of that book, but no details. Until a bit later in the book, that is: After a while there is a paragraph giving a succinct description of the events themselves.
Now that that's out of the way . . .
This time around, Reacher finds himself in Nebraska, after hitching a ride [as is his wont] "in the dead of winter in the forty-first least densely populated state of America's fifty," where he comes up against an old family [three brothers and the son of one of them] so powerful that they have an entire town - with everything and everyone in it - under its control. The town in question is 450 miles due south of the Canadian border, and it soon becomes clear that said family is involved with some kind of illegal smuggling.
Reacher takes a motel room for the night, in which he finds "everything he needed, nothing he didn't," which happens to be his credo for the manner in which he travels [i.e., "light"]. And which, for that matter, is a perfect description of a Lee Child book, to which this one is no exception. When Reacher is told he is crazy, he says he prefers to think of himself as conscientious. But he is more than that. Wrongs need to be righted. At some point the tale includes an investigation into what happened to an eight-year-old girl who had disappeared 25 years earlier.
The expected quotient of heightening suspense mixed with violence, equally in service of good and evil, is present, of course. As always the writing is wonderful and witty, and includes a priceless treatise on human nature. Reacher once more relies, for the most part, on little more than ingenuity. At one point, when he finds himself outnumbered four to one, with only a small amount of weaponry, he finds that he has everything he needs, nothing he doesn't, once more. Not invincible, but still Reacher, after all.
on 19 June 2012
I honestly don't know what people see in Lee Child books nowadays. The early ones were fine examples of the thriller genre, with inventive plots and an interesting protagonist, but now they pretty much all follow the same formula - Jack Reacher wanders into some generic no-name town in America, drinks coffee, rubs people the wrong way, beats some guys up, incurs the wrath of the local villain, beats some slightly tougher guys up, drinks more coffee, then has a confrontation with the big villain, dispatches him with ease and goes on his way.
In this book, Jack Reacher wanders into some isolated no-name town in Nebraska, drinks coffee, beats up the son of the local bad guy, drives around a bit, beats up some hired muscle sent to run him out of town, drives around a bit more, then confronts the bad guy and kills him in a tensionless, stale, unimaginative showdown.
This entire book is an absolute chore to read. It's ponderously slow paced, dull, bland and ultimately pointless. Half of the characters don't even have names - they're just referred to as The Doctor, or The Doctor's Wife - and none of them have any personality.
Speaking of no personality, Jack Reacher is still as invincible as ever. He still says nothing during conversations but somehow manages to get people to say whatever is convenient to move the plot forward. He can still beat anyone, any time, anywhere. He still knows exactly what time it is without needing a watch.
I'll tell you what time it is, Jack. It's time you retired, buddy. Your author stopped trying about three books ago.