My buddy @sommystar has been telling me about Lee Child’s Jack Reacher crime thriller series for a long time. He’s blogged disappointedly about some of the most recent novels (on Gone Tomorrow and on Nothing To Lose), but was very taken by the first few.
I only started reading them – in order of publication – a couple of months ago. Child’s up to the 17th in the series, and I’m up to the 5th. Child’s an extremely engaging writer, who paces the writing very well and knows how to keep the tension convincing.
When I was starting to read about Jack Reacher’s character and getting to know his voice in the novels, I could understand how he could really annoy the crap out of some people with the hyper-masculine know-how and supreme physicality. He has almost super-heroic abilities in fighting and deduction, like an itinerant, buff and scruffy Sherlock. I felt like I shouldn’t like the books, but I was totally sucked in. Still am – to the extent of almost-missing-train-stops sucked in.
Once I start one, I’m embedded in it till the end. Not quite reading till 3-4am in the morning like I was with the Game of Thrones novels, but still…
Strangely enough, this post was prompted by a brief Twitter conversation I had with @sommystar and @jaynepersian about the new movie Jack Reacher, which is being released later this year. The fact that Tom Cruise is Jack Reacher has killed any appeal the movie may have had. One of the key descriptors for Reacher, persistent in all the novels I’ve read so far is how tall he is. His sheer size is part of what allows him to move through life the way he does, and people’s initial response to his (slightly intimidating) presence pushes narrative along – cracking pace and all that.
Hmm. I already have a bias against Cruise, what with the nut-bag behaviours and Scientological bent, so maybe I just need to stop trying to justify my dislike of him in the role.
But back on track with the books:
Fairly consistently through the books I’ve read so far, Child includes many great minor characters in his cast, and I like the way savvy, tough women are sprinkled through the narratives. The books are, of course, showcasing Reacher and his foregrounding his values, logic, and inability to maintain a relationship. I want him to stay a wanderer. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the novels so far is finding how Reacher gets introduced into the story. So far, the situations have been compelling and not outlandish.
I’ve been reading them back-to-back, more or less, which is wreaking havoc with trying to remember what title I’m up to. Being waylaid by this series means that I’m making no head way with the AWW reading challenge, which I still intend to complete this year.
I had deliberately avoided finding out whether Lee Child was male or female, and I remained happily ignorant until I saw a gender reference by accident. Since then, seeing his official profile page, I keep thinking of Reacher and Child and coming up with GARY STU (definitely not Tom Cruise).
This hasn’t stopped me enjoying the books yet.
If I take on board @sommystar’s perspective, I have until the 11th novel before it starts going downhill too much!