Thursday, June 06, 2013

A Wanted Man, by Lee Child

A Wanted Man, by Lee Child

In Gone Tomorrow Jack Reacher finds himself in a NYC subway car with a suicide bomber. In Die Trying he is accidentally kidnapped. Here in A Wanted Man he hitches a ride in a car with three mysterious strangers during a statewide manhunt for a vicious killer. Reacher has some of the worst luck I've ever seen, but it sure does make for entertaining novels!

This is a good story, with virtually everyone the reader meets keeping a secret of some sort. Starting with a bizarre murder in rural Nebraska Child weaves a pretty good tale filled with twists; we know Reacher is in the car with the killers, but as he doesn't the suspense ratchets up well. Initially the storytelling is split between Reacher's POV and the murder investigation, eventually joining up for the second half. There are some pretty unbelievable twists but in the spirit of an action thriller I can let them go. The strangest scene was when Reacher communicates in a fairly ridiculous code using eye blinks and head nods to spell words. I can't imagine trying to drive a car at highway speeds at night while staring in the rear-view mirror and counting eye blinks; even for Reacher this seemed a bit much.

Also included is a short story "Deep Down" that is set in the late-eighties when Reacher was still in the Army. I like these glimpses into the past, and this one in particular tells how he earned his prestigious Legion of Merit award. While it wouldn't be a Reacher story without a few busted heads, the bulk of this is about an undercover investigation into a possible traitor. Workmanlike but entertaining—I can't imagine this story encouraging me to read other Reacher novels, but having already developed a fondness for the character I quite liked it.

As an aside, I recently saw the Tom Cruise movie Jack Reacher (based on the novel One Shot) and quite enjoyed it—but the 5'7" clean-cut Cruise didn't fit my image of the character. "Reacher was a big man, six feet five inches tall, heavily built, and that night as always he looked a little ragged and unkempt." Great movie, but I'm still waiting to see the Reacher I've read about on the big screen.

First Sentence:
The eyewitness said he didn't actually see it happen.

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