So, here it is only four months later, and my lazy, forgetful ass is finally getting around to doing another book review. I bitched in another post about a book I was particularly disappointed with, but it wasn’t really a review.
After a considerable wait, I finally received, from the Library, the second in the Jack Reacher series, like the previous, 700 pages of large print. It was the fourth book I was reading simultaneously, and took just over a week to get through.
The wife decided to do some research on the series, since I’ll want to work my way through it. The library has an e-copy of the next one, which we reserved. I’ll probably receive it quicker than this one. After that, they don’t have any, till the latest in the series. She checked with one of the e-book distributors, and they have them all, for $4/ea. I may have to ask for my own Kobo for my upcoming birthday.
The Author – Lee Child
The Book – Die Trying
I’m still hoping that Child’s writing improves as the series advances. Like the previous book, some portions of it are inspired. Then other sections drone and drone. He seems addicted to whipsawing. In several passages, the story goes from, It is, to It isn’t, to Yes it is, back to No, it isn’t, finally to It provably is. Once, or even twice, can be excitingly suspenseful. Three or four times in one book quickly becomes disappointingly formulaic.
Reacher is in the wrong place at the wrong time when three guys kidnap a young female FBI agent off the streets of Chicago in broad daylight. Child, through his Reacher character, still shows solid logic. The fact that the three kidnappers were only gone from a militia compound for five days, means that there is a mole in the FBI office who studied her schedule, a plot twist that got past me.
The author builds the suspense through the usual process of elimination, and brings it down to just two possible candidates – and then plot twists it that they are both dirty, one for ideology, the other just for greed.
What I liked about the book: The usual guy stuff. Lots of things went bang and boom. Bad guys got dead. Good guys got saved, good logical thinking employed, lots of witty repartee.
What I didn’t like about the book: A surprising number of minor details. I watch a considerable amount of English telly, but things I accept without question on a British broadcast, grate when viewed in a book aimed largely at a North American market.
Child has a character stand on a queue. Most Americans will join a line or line-up, but not a queue. Those who do, speak of standing in a queue, not on one. Standing on a queue, seems like I’m leaving footprints on unfortunate people.
The same with what a character did at the weekend. “At the weekend” seems like someone drove up to it and parked outside. Americans do things on the weekend, to enjoy the entire 60 hours
When Reacher first met the heroine, he did a cold read on her, and figured she owned twenty outfits, each worth $400 – an $8000 wardrobe. While she is impressed with his observational skills and logic, she tells him that she worked at a Madison Avenue firm for three years before joining the FBI and bringing her clothes with her. She has 35 outfits, and $400 is what she pays for a top when it’s on sale. She has $8000 worth of shoes. This is not a problem with the writing, but I have trouble rooting for any female who owns $8000 worth of shoes.
Child doesn’t seem to know the difference between a cave and a mine, and has Reacher fighting his claustrophobia by crawling through a tiny passage where the roof comes down almost to his head and the walls close in till he can hardly move his elbows. Then he encounters the skeletons of five competitors the head bad guy had murdered.
This is a great psychological passage, showing the ruthless evil of the villain, and Reacher winning out over adversity. I can ignore the question of, if it’s that tight in there, how did he crawl past five skeletons? The question I can’t ignore is, how did they get there? In a passage that small, they couldn’t be dragged in, and they couldn’t be pushed in.
This book is only a year newer than the first, and Child still doesn’t seem to have learned much about guns. True, he doesn’t have anyone waving little .22 caliber pistols, but, at least five years after the FBI switched to semi-automatic pistols, he has them still carrying old .38 Special revolvers. Everybody else in the book had auto-loaders, the Army, the Secret Service, even the bad guys. How come the Bureau got stuck with the antiques?
He has the heroine come into possession of a “MAC 10” machine pistol, but she’s afraid to fire it because the noise will attract more bad guys. I suppose I should cut Child a little slack on this one. Even many knowledgeable gun dealers don’t know the difference between an Ingram M 10, and a MAC 10. The M 10 does not become a MAC 10 until a Military Arms Construction (MAC) sound suppressor has been attached.
Salesmen used to meet potential buyers in hotel rooms. The “silenced” gun was removed from a titanium briefcase, and the salesman would order a jug of ice water and glasses from room-service. When the hotel employee knocked on the door, the salesman would toss a couple of cushions in front of the briefcase, to catch ricochets, and burn through a 30-round magazine of shells. He would then turn the cushions over, jam the gun back into the briefcase, and answer the door. Not one bellboy ever reported anything suspicious, but tons of sales were made.
Despite their minor flaws, these are good solid action books. I look forward to the next.