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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Anonymous Jack Reacher

I read The Hard Way by Lee Child on my recent overseas trip. This is my first time with Lee Child and I'll have to add him to my favorite authors page. Definitely a "page-turner." I will soon be getting the earlier books in Child's Jack Reacher series.

"Jack Reacher ordered expresso...." the book begins. We learn a bit about Reacher's tastes, which is interesting because on the whole we never learn much about the central character. Who is he? His military background as an MP is repeated often enough. But who is he?

You can grow fond of Spencer (Robert Parker) and his wit. You know almost more than you want to know about Nina Reilly (Perri O'Shaughnessy) and her family and friends. But here is a guy with no apparent family or circle of friends, no office or home.

At the end of the book, chapter 77 serves as the epilogue. We learn what happened to and where they are now - both the bad guys and the good guys. Except for Reacher: "Nobody knew where Jack Reacher was. He had left Grange Farm two hours after the backhoe had shut down, and there had been no news of him since." Until, I suppose, he pops up in the next story, from nowhere.

Even the rather cold Lucas Davenport (John Sandford) has a home and family. Even The Equalizer (remember the series starring Edward Woodward in the late 1980s?) had a son and other family entanglements. Jack Reacher (at least in this novel) also functions as an Equalizer, but one that seems impenetrable. Who is he? So Lee Child has created an anonymous character, and done rather well with him.

I regret that I will miss hearing Lee Child when he keynotes at the annual Crimebake. I have attended two previous Crimebakes and they are excellent.


Jennifer said...

Jack Reacher is one of my favorite characters ... discovered him when I grabbed what I thought was a Lincoln Child book off the library shelf LOL! If you ever listen to books on tape, try these ... Dick Hill is one of my favorite readers and he does a great job as Reacher.

Frank Hardy said...

Thanks Jennifer for your comment. I don't listen to books on tape much, although my wife does on her long 9 hour trips to Canada to visit her Mom and other family. She is not a mystery book fan at all, but somehow latched onto listening to Mrs. Pollifax mysteries. She has made it clear to me that the listening enjoyment of the story is dictated by the skills of the reader--

Well, if I have an opportunity to listen to a book on tape, I'll take your suggestion!

Ben said...

I think Lee Child likes to keep Reacher a mystery and just reveal small little things about his character book by book. I prefer to read the books as well but a lot of people find it easier to just listen to the audio of the book.

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