Book Review #3

This will be a review of Lee Child’s third Jack Reacher novel.  I will do reviews of books other than the Reacher set, I promise.  It’s just that I’ve reached the point in life where I have no need or desire to better my brain, or learn anything.  I read just for fun, and to pass the time.  Many years ago, I kidded the wife about the “Nurse Jane” romance novels she read.  As the son grew up, in his desperation to read anything, he got hooked on several of these series.  Now I denigrate them at my peril.

Both the romantic novels, and my men’s adventure books are one short step up from comic books, and are hardly serious enough prose to base a review on.  They’re not a complete waste of time though.  A surprising number of crossword and Jeopardy answers can be found in their gossamer plots.

The Author – Lee Child

The Book – Tripwire

The Review

Before he died of cancer, the old General who trained Reacher as an MP, started an investigation.  People are dying because a scam-artist from the Viet Nam war still doesn’t want to be found after 30 years, and the General’s daughter is in danger.

I don’t go looking for mistakes, but I’m observant enough that I often find them, especially in print.  Reacher starts the book with two jobs in Key West.  To protect the girl, he needs to get to New York soonest, so he has a stripper drive him in her Porsche to the Miami airport, in the middle of the night.  The book says, the only time she slowed to under 100 MPH, was when she went across the causeway to the mainland.

I drove out to Key West and back once.  It’s a hundred miles of on and off tiny islands, and through small towns, on a narrow, two-lane road, smaller than some English country lanes.  Average speed was about 40 MPH.  To try it at a hundred, almost guarantees that someone dies, and what for?  Why not fly out of the Key West airport?  There are 58 flights to NYC a day, 47 of them direct flights, starting at 7:55 AM.

It gave Reacher a chance to do some role-playing disguise.  If you strut up to the desk at Miami, and buy a one-way ticket with cash, you will be stopped and questioned by police about drug-smuggling.  Reacher looked poor, and non-threatening.

I began to wonder if Lee Child was being paid off for product placement by General Motors.  The heroine drove an Oldsmobile Bravada SUV.  The two contract killers drove either a Chevy Yukon, or a GMC Tahoe.  Child knows that they are the same vehicle, except for badging, but, being a Brit, he called them all Jeeps.

British word-usage was endemic through the book.  The heroine wore trousers instead of slacks or pants.  The missing man studied accountancy, not accounting, and had a passing-out ceremony instead of a graduation.  That sounds like a university party, or an old Victor Borge skit.  Everyone carried mobiles instead of cell phones.  I felt almost at home as Child described a road in New York City which changed names four times as it traveled from one borough, into the next.

In this book, Child seems to have a real fixation on the Hudson River.  He has the General’s home directly across it from West Point, and an old couple’s house 30 miles further up-river.  Three times in one chapter, he has someone approach it and note, “A mile-wide hush in the forest ahead.”  Come on, this isn’t the Mighty Mississippi.  It’s the Hudson, a hundred miles from the mouth; you can almost skip a stone across.

Child often provides a plethora of descriptive detail, usually right where you don’t need it.  When Reacher visited the old couple, Child listed all kinds of flowers, shrubs and trees.  He described a once-wide walkway, now reduced to a narrow trail through the overgrowing bushes.  I looked out my back window at plants the wife and I spent ten years planting, and getting to grow, but now don’t have the time or strength to uproot, or trim back.

This is just an eBook problem.  I was reading, and Reacher passed a homeless bum, but I saw it as burn.  I chalked it up to old eyes, until I saw the word again in the next chapter.  There it was again, burn, not bum.  Kobo has a feature where you can just tap a word on the screen, and it will give you a dictionary meaning.  Sure enough, it defined “BURN.”

Drug dealers in NYC use any gun they can get their hands on, usually obtained through break-ins and theft.  Reacher took down a lookout, a guard and a dealer, to get a handgun, all while he waited for a pizza.  The lookout had a Chinese .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol – odd, but possible in the Big Apple.  The guard had a .38 caliber revolver, which Child had Reacher throw away, because he had been told that they had no stopping power.

Child armed the drug dealer with a 9 MM Steyr GB, rare and expensive even in Europe, their home, but even more rare and expensive in New York.  I guess burglars can’t be choosers.  Later, the evil genius pulled out his handgun and pointed it at our damsel-in-distress.  Child has her describe it as “flat black, but shiny, bedewed with droplets of oil.”  “Flat black” means it has a non-rust coating, and doesn’t need to be oiled on the outside.  That much oil would foul clothing and/or the holster, causing the gun to fall out, and might make it nigh-impossible to hold.

He later reached into his pocket and removed a 1 inch diameter roll of duct tape, with perhaps five yards left on it.  Sounds like more British goods.  Every roll I’ve seen in North America has a 3 inch core.  This book was written in 1997, and Child has Reacher go to an Army Forensic Anthropologist, to absolutely identify the bones of returned Viet Nam MIAs.  This was just as Kathy Reichs was getting started as a writer.  I wonder, which came first, the Chicken-Colonel, or the Bones?

In the end, Reacher jumps in front of one of those puny .38s, and takes a hit, to save the damsel.  He wakes up in the hospital to be told that the powerful pectoral muscles over his sternum stopped the bullet.  There are no muscles over the sternum, and, if there were, they wouldn’t stop a .38 at eight feet.

While these books are as much fun as the drivel I won’t show you, I have trouble with the suspension of disbelief, and had hoped for a little more precision, and fewer plot holes.

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Killing Brain Cells

….uh, whuh wuz I talkin’ about?

Oh yeah,….I left the house today!  Big Mistake!

I was reminded again (and again, and again) why I am the curmudgeonly loner I am.  Present erudite blogosphere company excepted, the rest of humanity is a seething mass of dumbf**ks, fighting to get to the bottom of the gene pool.  Perhaps I should cut them a little slack, through poor planning, I caused some of my own problem.

I had to go to the dentist today.  Relax!  My fangs are still sharp.  I just needed a little cleaning so that I don’t cause an infection when I bite someone.  The appointment wasn’t until 2 PM.  I had a bit of shopping to do at a couple of stores.  I should have sat and read the paper, and shopped after the dentist, but I was a bit antsy.  Assuming that there would be the inevitable delays at both stores, I left the house just before one.  Bad move!

Apparently Murphy was taking a holiday.  I walked into Eurofoods, took number 28 from the bingo machine…and the clerk said, “Number 28.”  Got some sliced ham and sliced Havarti cheese for the wife’s lunch, walked over to an empty checkout, and was out of the store in three minutes.

I drove across the street to the grocery store.  I should have been suspicious.  I got a parking spot right up front without the handicap sticker.  When I went inside, I thought maybe somebody was giving away free money on television.  I could have bowled down almost any aisle.  I got my stuff and got in line behind one woman, with three items.  Paid for my junk and walked to the car….and it’s 1:10.  The dentist is five minutes away.  What am I going to do for three-quarters of an hour?

Not anticipating a long wait, I didn’t bring a newspaper along.  I could just feel the brain-power draining.  By the time I left, I’m sure I was down 50 IQ points.  I read a copy of People magazine.  I should have read the National Geographic under it.  I joke about my “Seinfeld” blogs being about *nothing.*  This piece of tripe was 112 pages about even less.  People whose names I didn’t know.  People whose names I don’t want to know.  There’s a soap actor named Texas Battle!?  Just call him Alamo and get it over with.

Miley Cyrus and Elle Fanning, kids younger than BrainRants’ wristwatch, with more followers and more money than God.  People wore clothing, and said things.  Wow!  That goes on outside my door every day.  Housewives Of New Jersey??!  Four pages about *celebrities* whose only claim to fame is fewer brains and even less talent than the Kardashians.

Then I got called in for my cleaning.  Does every dentist’s office in North America have that TV set suspended over your head like Damocles’ Sword?  And then the tech hunches over you to work, and you can’t see half of it anyway.  She asked me if I wanted to change the channel.  I wanted to turn it off, but she said she could only turn it down.

I watched the Dr. Oz show, and if I never see it again, it will be three days too soon.  He had on Jenny McCarthy.  I said I’d watch the stripper slut.  The cleaner looked up and said, “Isn’t she a porn star too?”  I have no knowledge about that.  That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

A single mother, (what a surprise.) she spoke of her autistic young son.  He was having seizures.  She had heard of a group of Mormon women who would come to your house, if you had enough money and power, and pray the illness away.  She called.  They came.  They prayed.  The seizures stopped.  Seems miraculous, but straightforward.

Then she began discussing her health, and the health of her son with Doc Ooze Oz.  She told of having her son tested, and finding high levels of arsenic.  She spoke of changing their diet and cleansing the bodies, but she still gave credit for the son’s magical recovery to the mumbo-jumbo Mormon moms.  I think that, like many in the entertainment field, she believes too strongly in too many things.  She startled even the good Doctor, by claiming she takes 35 to 40 Vitamin pills a day.

Next up was a mother of two, who drinks 9 or 10 cups of coffee a day.  She says that when she goes to bed, she can’t fall asleep for an hour or two, and always feels tired the next day, so she drinks the coffee to keep her going.  Here’s a suggestion.  Drop the coffee. Get to sleep sooner.  Wake up rested.  Don’t need the coffee.  And for my next trick, I’ll invent cold fusion.  It’s not rocket surgery.

So what did Dr. Oz recommend?  Well, he told her to cut out the coffee.  Okay so far.  And replace it with an Energy Drink, like Red Bull or Five Hour.  Are you crazy Doc?  Why don’t you just admit that you’re being bribed?  One cup of regular coffee has about 63 mg. of caffeine.  One serving of energy drink can contain up to 450 mg. of caffeine, plus high levels of sugar for some nice weight gain.  One energy drink equals more than 7 cups of coffee.  How is she going to sleep?  How will her husband sleep, with her vibrating in the bed beside him?  How do you sleep after handing out advice like this?  And the all-women audience clapped and cheered.  Sheep!  Unthinking sheep, I tell you.

I was so happy when my cleaning was finished, and I could get away from one of the worst examples of why I don’t watch day-time TV.