I am always reading. Most of the time, most of what I read is for my job and my “profession.” However, especially in the summertime, I read a lot of fiction. When I find a particular author whose work I enjoy, I tend to read that author’s material exclusively for a while. In recent years I’ve enjoyed books by the following authors: Dick Frances, Andrew Geeley, Robert Harris, William F. Buckley Jr., Margaret Truman, John Grisham. Recently I’ve discovered Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” books. This started with a cable TV movie that E and I watched back in the springtime. The movie was titled simply “Jack Reacher.” We didn’t know it at the time, but the movie was based on one of Lee Child’s books. When I discovered this, and when I discovered that there were at least 13 of these books, I was excited. So, recently I’ve been frequenting the “C” shelf in the fiction section of my city’s library.
In June I wanted to learn how to check out e-books, or digital copies of books from our library. (This turned out not to be as simple as I hoped it would be.) Just before our trip to Alaska I managed to check out a digital copy of Child’s “The Hard Way.” During the trip I found several occasions to read from that book on my iPhone, but it was difficult to find places to keep the iPhone charged, so I didn’t really get very far into the book. The digital loan expired, and I had only read about a third of the book. This week I checked out the paper copy of the book, and I’ve been able to read the rest of the book that way.
“The Hard Way” is not as enjoyable as some of the other Jack Reacher books I’ve read. It’s more violent and more graphic than I really like. The thing I did like about it is that Reacher is reliably the smart, tough, relentless “good guy” who latches onto a struggle with a “bad guy” and sees that struggle through to the end, whatever it takes. This is the key element to Child’s books. The main character is strong enough and developed well enough to hold the reader’s interest throughout each of the books. Reacher is a former military cop who is now on his own. He is essentially homeless and wandering, and the battles that he engages in are things that he stumbles into. There is almost always a surpise twist or two in the plot, and these are almost always just a bit of a challenge for the reader to figure out. There is enough foreshadowing and enough clues are given that the careful reader can anticipate and uncover most of the surprises. Unlike some authors, Child gives the reader a fighting chance at solving the problem or mystery before it is revealed. I like that in a book.
In any event, if you like a book with a fast-moving plot, a strong hero character, a bit of a mystery and a twisty plot, maybe you’ll enjoy some of the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child.