“Tripwire” by Lee Child is the third book in the Jack Reacher series. I have learned my lesson about these books, so I made sure I had plenty of time to read and few, if any, responsibilities before starting “Tripwire”.
Jack Reacher’s story picks up with him working down in Florida digging pools after nearly running out of money traveling the country. I was immediately sucked into the book, no surprise there, and Reacher’s rationalization for why he is working as a nameless individual is really interesting. “Because being invisible had become a habit. In the front part of his brain, he knew it was some kind of a complex, alienated response to his situation. Two years ago, everything had turned upside down. He had gone from being a big fish in a small pond to being nobody. From being a senior and valued member of a highly structured community to being just one of 270 million anonymous civilians. From being necessary and wanted to being one person too many. From being where someone told him to be every minute of every day to being confronted with three million square miles and maybe forty more years and no map and no schedule. The front part of his brain told him his response was understandable, but defensive, the response of a man who liked solitude but was worried by loneliness. It told him it was an extremist response, and he should take care with it.
But the lizard part of his brain buried behind the frontal lobes told him he liked it. He liked the anonymity. He liked his secrecy. It felt warm and comfortable and reassuring. He guarded it.” (Tripwire, pg 13/14). After several months of staying in the same place, a guy comes looking for Reacher. This is the trigger that gets Reacher back in touch with some of those he hasn’t seen in ages, and once again, he finds himself in a dangerous situation.
What really struck me several times throughout this novel is how Jack Reacher finds himself being forced to adapt to civilian life. At one point he is thinking about the fact that he doesn’t have a clue how to do laundry, because it was always taken care of during his army days. Up until his discharge two years ago, he had lived on army bases his entire life. At another point, Reacher reflects on the idea of kindness. It wasn’t something that factored into his life when he was in the army, but now that he’s a civilian he noticed it. “He guessed kindness counted for a lot during that type of duty, but his own career had been locked tight inside the service itself, where things were always simple, either happening or not happening, good or bad, legal or not legal. Now two years after leaving the service, kindness was suddenly a factor in his life. And it would make him lie.” (Tripwire, pg 489). I found it interesting how such a huge range of things that I find to be part of normal life were so abnormal for Reacher as ex-military.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, I am really enjoying this series. I like the fact that is isn’t exclusively heart-thumping thrill-ride action. The Jack Reacher books do have that, but it is alongside strong character development and intriguing scenarios. I like that each book reveals a little more about Jack Reacher and in each one he continues to walk the line of trying to adapt to civilian life after such a long time in a military environment. It keeps the books interesting, at least so far, and I am really looking forward to the next book.