Reacher of the End

I’ve just finished with Lee Child‘s Jack Reacher novels. By that, I don’t mean I’ve read all twenty-something of them. I mean that I’ve read the first four, and intend to stop there.

I enjoyed my Reacher reading, especially the first chapters of the first book, Killing Floor. It opens with the first-person narrator, new in Margrave, Georgia, minding his own business in a diner, enjoying his coffee and eggs.

Then the police arrive, armed with shotguns and revolvers. The narrator works out that they are there for him, although he doesn’t know why.

The guy with the revolver stayed at the door… The guy with the shotgun approached close… Textbook moves.

So right away Child presents us with some interesting questions. Who is this person? (Yes, it does turn out to be Reacher.) What’s he doing in Margrave? Why are the police after him? Why do they regard him as dangerous? (It turns out that they are correct in this.) Most intriguing of all, how does he know the “textbook” for an arrest involving shotguns?

Killing Floor is marred by some ludicrous plotting and resolutions (which I can’t describe without spoilers). But, largely on the strength of the opening, I was excited to have “discovered” Child and Reacher.

So on to the second Reacher novel, Die Trying. This time the opening is rather silly: Reacher just happens to be around when an FBI agent is leaving the dry cleaner’s, she is kidnapped at that moment, the kidnappers also take Reacher and handcuff the two of them together.

My favorite aspect of Die Trying is the way that each of the kidnapped pair is concerned to protect the other. Child makes this touching and funny. It’s probably time to mention that Reacher is a huge man, capable of extreme and effective violence.

On, then, to the third novel, Tripwire. I think that this is my favorite of the four Reachers I read. We learn a lot about Reacher’s past. Tripwire ends with some questions about his future.

Those questions are resolved in the fourth novel, Running Blind. I enjoyed that book, but not enough to make me want to read more Reacher.

As a character, Reacher reminds me of Robert Parker’s Spenser. Each is driven to solve mysteries and is guided by a chivalrous code. However, they are very different. Reacher drifts across the USA, and hence so do the novels about him. Spenser is firmly based in Boston, as are most of Parker’s novels.

I prefer Parker and Spenser. That’s no disgrace to Child and Reacher. Starting with the second novel (God Save the Child–don’t bother with the first, it’s very different, and not in a good way, from the “real” Spenser books), Parker wrote a stretch of novels impressive in writing and plotting.

I am glad to have accompanied Reacher on his first four adventures. I think this is where I finish. But if you have a particular recommendation for one or more of the other novels, or any other comments on Reacher, please leave a comment.

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