Becky’s Two Hundred and Eighty-Second Book Review: “61 Hours” by Lee Child

“61 Hours” by Lee Child is the fourteenth book in the Jack Reacher series. This series can suck you in for sure. Jack Reacher is a great character and it is especially fun to watch him when he puts himself on a mission to protect. His ability to forge connections with all sorts of people is pretty astounding when you consider his general dislike for most people and his rather intimidating stature. But under that hard exterior is a guy that just wants to see justice prevail.

When “61 Hours” opens, Reacher is on a bus that is driving though South Dakota on a slippery road. His fellow travelers are older folks and when the bus swerves to avoid another car on the road, Reacher steps up and takes charge. He recognizes the situation as precarious if action isn’t taken. After all, it is winter and the bus is full of elderly people. It is this take-charge attitude that leads Reacher to fall into his latest role of unofficial security for a witness. The witness, Janet Salter, that Reacher begins protecting is one of those genuinely good people, simply trying to do the right thing. Which is rare. The relationship Reacher develops with Janet is quite entertaining and at times, endearing.

The different people Reacher encounters in “61 Hours” are on two opposite ends of a spectrum. There are those that grew up in this small town and have spent their whole lives here, and then there are the newcomers. The once small town has been faced with a unique challenge when they have a prison built right up the road. Suddenly they have increased traffic and there are strangers in town. And when dead bodies start showing up, the police force that is already divided between the old and the new are now faced with an even bigger situation that they haven’t had to deal with before. And then Reacher comes to town. “They frighten people. Simply by being there, I think, and by being different. They are the other. Which is inherently disturbing, apparently. In practice, they do us no overt harm. We exist together in an uneasy standoff. But I can’t deny an undercurrent of menace.” (61 Hours, pg 131). This quote is referencing some of the bikers that have come to town since the prison was built, but I think it is an interesting perspective of how people in a small town would feel towards anyone that is a newcomer. It illustrates the prejudice that Reacher faces whenever he comes to a new place. He is the other.

I think it’s impressive how Lee Child is able to write fourteen books following this one character and still capture his readers from the first page and keep that grip until the very last page. He leaves you wanting more too. Thus far, this series does not feel formula, which is no small feat. I continue to relish his writing.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Reacher is an amazing character, as I’ve said before. And the fact that these books keep you wanting to come back for more is a true testament to the quality of Lee Child’s writing. I’m very eager to pick up the next book in the series.

Advertisements

Becky’s Two Hundred and Seventy-Eighth Book Review: “Gone Tomorrow” by Lee Child

“Gone Tomorrow” by Lee Child starts off once again, with Jack Reacher refusing to behave as a civilian. He sees a woman on a subway car and can’t help but start analyzing the situation. Trouble always finds him, but his inquisitive nature and his need for justice guarantees his involvement whether or not he is wanted. This woman appears to Reacher to be a suicide bomber. And so he runs through the list that he was taught back in the army. “Twenty years later I still know the list. And my eyes still move. Pure habit. From another bunch of guys I learned another mantra: Look, don’t see, listen, don’t hear. The more you engage, the longer you survive.” (Gone Tomorrow, pg 1). And so of course, he engages. He can’t help himself. And that is the beginning of his trouble in the thirteenth Jack Reacher book.

It’s interesting, the way that Jack Reacher sees the world. He spent so much time being told where to go and what to do that now that he is on his own he does whatever he wants. And because of all he has seen, he doesn’t discriminate against bad guys. Or bad people as was the case in “Gone Tomorrow”. The mystery in this book is finding out not only who the bad people are, but what it is that they really want. And what the lengths are that they will go to get it.

Despite loving Reacher as a character, it is hard sometimes to justify what he does. He meddles. He can’t leave things alone. Especially when there is an injustice, even more so when that injustice is against him. It makes you wonder why he hasn’t started a career as a private detective or gone into police work or something. But at the same time, he is a loner. And he likes not having to answer to anyone else. That much is clear. His personality is so blunt, and he stands out so much that to work for someone else – even as a private detective would be stifling. So he does his own thing. He answers only to himself. And listens only to himself. A dangerous combination for anyone that crosses him.

Would I recommend this book? As a Jack Reacher book, of course I would recommend this. Anyone who is already addicted to the series will quickly tear through “Gone Tomorrow”. I wouldn’t however, recommend it to anyone that had not started somewhere else in the series. Most of these books could be read as a stand-alone despite being part of a series. This one might not get a reader hooked as well as some of the earlier books. And there are some aspects of Reacher’s personality that would be difficult to understand if you hadn’t already met him. That being said, I am writing this review while on vacation so that I can go start the next book in the series. So if you haven’t already started the series I strongly recommend that you do – and start at the beginning, it is always the best place to start.