on 9 November 2016
The writing is ok. The story is pretty meh, linear and just one predictable thing happening after another.
What blew it for me is absolute lack of credibility of a ket plot element. JR is a drifter and he ends up in a particular nowhere town on a whim, completely at random. And is promptly arrested for murder. Whose murder? Well, the victim turns out to be JRs brother. Who JR hasn't seen in years and who just happening to be working in that town in the whole of the USA. Comlpete random chance.
LOL, you're kidding us, Lee Child. We're talking about winning the lottery 5 times and being struck by lightning on the day after each win kind of probability.
Totally punctures any credibility to the book and the plot.
on 13 July 2013
I remember back in High School my English class were given a creative writing exercise. I can't remember if it revolved round a particular theme, or it it was just a "write whatever you feel" thing, but I wrote about a guy being held hostage in the Middle East and what he imagined doing to his captors if he had the chance. I don't know if this was around the time Terry Waite was released, as that's a bit of a bizarre subject matter for me to had written about back then (I'd almost always opt for something sci-fi), but it was a revenge fantasy from the point of view of the captive. He never escaped, but he imagined doing so, and getting even on the way out.
I got it back a week or so later with a disapproving look from Mrs McCallum with large capital letters on the front in red pen informing me that I watched too many violent videos. Fair point Mrs. M. My short story was as bad as it sounds. Poorly written, flights of fancy, violence for violences sake and absolutely the kind of thing you'd read from a 13 year old who knew every Schwarzenegger movie made up to that point inside and out.
If you'd told me that Lee Child was my idiot 13 year old self when he wrote this book, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest.
It was the most stupid, arrogant, chauvinistic, simple, pre-pubescent book I've had the displeasure of reading, but read it I did. I must have read a third of the way through it trying to convince myself it was satirical before it became more and more apparent Child was writing this trash seriously.
The problem with Reacher is that he is invulnerable. There is never any real threat to him. Oh he get's a couple of smacks along the way, nothing serious, but in return he kills indiscriminately and extremely violently. Over the course of the book, by my reckoning, the bad guys kill 5 people, whereas Reacher kills 15. He's an absolute psycho. Now that in and of itself isn't a bad thing, there's nothing like a great anti-hero, right ? Reacher isn't even that.
He's always right despite doing very little detecting or investigating, as the ridiculous coincidences and lucky breaks just come tumbling at him in this story, wiping out any sense of believability. Stuff like he manages to acquire the firearm of the previous Chief Of Police in this tiny desert town, but it ain't a Police issue .38 special, oh no, it's the Israeli built .44 Desert Eagle. Of course it is. There isn't so much of an investigation as evidence/persons of interest fall right into his lap. He displays deductive reasoning like an amateur Sherlock Holmes at one point yet switches it off after that, as at 47% (thanks Kindle) I had the whole thing figured out, yet it took Reacher to 63% before the pieces started to fit together.
Child also tries to ape the snappy effortless prose of the likes of Ellroy by having the book written in the first person by Reacher, so that everything is written in short stacatto sentences, the longest of which never exceeds 15 words. Everyone is called by their last names ( I honestly couldn't tell you the first names of Finlay, Roscoe, Teale, Kliner, Baker, Kliners son, Hubble etc), it's like it should be read by an old grime covered 1950's detective with a dry mouth and clicky tongue, whilst gargling gravel and chewing a brick on a long hard wet night.
The women in the book exist for no other reason than to be rescued or to have sex with Reacher, because he's so damned attractive of course. It was extremely hard to read this as the previous book I'd read was the first Game Of Thrones, which has fantastically strong, three dimensional female characters. To read this just made me wonder if I'd gone back in time 50 years.
Then we come to the writing itself which was a bore. The constant repetition of phrases and the simple language destroy any sense of tension. There's a car chase and shootout sequence that any other writer could make exciting, but for the 4 or 5 pages it covers, Child never once lets you forget Reacher is driving a Bentley. He drove the Bentley. The Bentley turned. The Bentley accelerated etc etc.
It took me till nearly the last third before I clicked onto the fact that I could highlight passages on my Kindle and save them for later so I could laugh at their idiocy, the two choicest and spoiler free ones being : "The hall had four walls and a floor and a ceiling" and "It was as distinctive as the most distinctive thing you could think of." Powerful words indeed, Mr. Child.
This book is pure wish fulfilment if you are a 13 year old boy, an idiot and have no real grasp of the way the world works, or how women are supposed to behave towards you, or how interesting conflicts can arise.
So to finalise, as Lee Child himself would no doubt write :
This was the worst book I'd ever read.
"This is the worst book I've ever read", I told my wife.
"That's the worst book you've ever read ?", she asked me
This was the worst book I've ever read.
This was my first Reacher novel and I'd heard lots of good things (and some bad) so wasn't really sure what to expect. I'm glad I started reading these and I'm now on the 15th book back to back - they are proper page turners!
Lee Child doesn't write the worlds greatest prose but it does work unusually well - it's almost like bullet points descriptions. For example "Reacher got in the car, he started the engine and began to drive".
Normally this kind of writing style wouldn't be to my personal preference but sets the scene well and flows the story along at a nice pace that makes for a compelling read.
The actual story is just about believable, but once you've read more of the Reacher tales then I'd suggest that this may have been better more along the timeline - but that's just me nitpicking on my part! The characters can be a little wooden at times, and some of the plot lines are stretching credibility (without spoiling too much, the location and two related people being there very close in time is unlikely) However, there has been a lot of reviews on the story and how good it is, and my advice is just to give it a try - at around £5 or so it's not a lot to loose but a lot to gain. Be warned though, you may just find it compelling enough to start reading them all one after the other just like I did!
Highly recommended as a good introduction to the character and his story, but there are stronger Reacher books hence the 4 stars.
on 29 April 2013
The story itself might not be without its merits, but the problem is, it's written like this. Two words per sentence. Written by an Englishman. Pretending to be American. Nothing flows. It'll annoy you real bad. You think I'm joking, right? So give it a go. If anyone talked like this. You'd fill them in. You couldn't take it. You'd go insane. You'd have to stop them. It couldn't go on. That's how this book's written. Page after page. Like listening to the phone ring. It's shockingly bad. It's irritating to read. Have you tried Tom Wood? Much better stuff. Written in good English. For people who like books. Exciting stuff. Trust me on this. You want a good read? Don't buy this. It's awful, man. It really is. Utter trash.
on 20 October 2002
Even though I read about fifty books a year in the Mystery/Thriller genre, this is my first introduction to Lee Child. He comes highly recommended and I'm now wondering why I waited so long to pick up one of his books.
My immediate thoughts on this author are that I like his writing style. He writes like we speak -- shorter sentences and gets right to the point. My second discovery is his use of surprises. There's nothing I like more than reading a book where I don't know what's going to happen at the end of a chapter. I love having some of those "Oh, No" moments when settling down with a mystery. My third and probably most important reason for liking this book is the main character. Finally, I meet Jack Reacher -- 6'4", 36 years old, a former military policeman and, best of all, he's not a wise-guy. I don't know why most authors think they have to resort to the wise-cracking main character in order to have a successful book. To me, Jack Reacher is a refreshing change.
The setting of this book, Margrave, Georgia, is reminiscent of a Stepford town. Everything is perfect, everything is clean, everyone is happy with their lives....until dead bodies start showing up. Reacher, who just happens to be wandering through Margrave, is immediately considered a suspect simply because he's an outsider. But little does this town know that it's the "insiders" they have to worry about as Reacher sets out to prove his innocence and seeks revenge for the death of someone from his past. And when Reacher sets out to seek revenge, he means it, as he has no problem at all in killing bad people.
In the beginning of the book, he won't know whom to trust and neither will the reader. As the story progresses, however, you will become amazed at Reacher's intelligence and will become attuned to his deciphering of even the smallest clue.
Jack Reacher has now moved right up on top of my list of favorite main characters in a mystery series. I've looked past the fact that he has no problem killing people.
I'm just so glad that this is a series because it means that I get to visit with this pantheon of human pulchritude again and again and again. Next up....Die Trying.
on 7 September 2014
This was a simple, obvious little story drawn out to a ridiculous degree. The author uses short, punchy sentences but my God he uses a lot of them! The story dragged interminably, with everything over-explained over and over, and one word never used where a hundred would do. I found myself skimming before I got to the halfway point. There were other problems too; I didn't buy the Reacher character at all, or his back story. I didn't buy the ridiculous coincidence of him winding up in the same town as his brother. But my biggest problem was that he was a homeless hobo, and a murder suspect, yet he was welcomed into a murder investigation by Finlay, given access to police records and told everything that was going on. He was even allowed access to a murder scene, and then was allowed to take over the investigation, I mean, what? Has the author never met a cop? No cop ever born, in any country, would have let Reacher within a million miles of the case. Plus, when he murders two men and hides the bodies, his cop girlfriend helps him! I mean, my God? This is my first Lee Child, and undoubtedly my last. Thank God for Harry Bosch.