My thoughts: I give it❣ . I disliked this novel. First, the style of the prose and voice of the first person narrator, Jack Reacher, really irked me. The style reminded me of irritatingly faux Hemingway. Spare, choppy with lots of short declarative sentences and sentence fragments. Here’s a sample paragraph from fairly early on that’s typical:
I stayed leaning up on the bars, motionless. Baker signaled Hubble to walk with him around the far side of the squad room. Toward the rosewood office in back. As Hubble rounded the end of the reception desk, I saw his feet. Tan boat shoes. No socks. The two men walked out of sight into the office. The door closed. The desk sergeant left his post and went outside to park Baker’s cruiser.
It’s pretty much all like that–unvarying and that style doesn’t wear well. Imagery? Great description? Actual sentence: It was about as distinctive as the most distinctive thing you could ever think of. The other problem I had with the voice (and character) was that, as the blurb from Jeffrey Deaver put it, Jack Reacher is one of those “tough guy heroes.” The kind that has not a trace of a sense of humor and all the affect of a Vulcan purged of all emotion at Gol. The kind of guy that has the first pretty woman in view have the hots for him and sleep with him within two days of meeting him (almost all of which he spent in jail) even though she’s a police officer who met him when taking his prints, he’s been living like a vagrant and he’s a murder suspect. The kind who kills with his own hands without a ripple of remorse or queasiness. And the violent streak got worse as the novel went along–at first it was justifiable self defense, even if ruthless and brutal. (In an early encounter Reacher gouges out an eye.) But it eventually became Mike Hammer-like cold-blooded murders–only justifiable to fans of Death Wish.
The part I did like was that Reacher is a former military policeman who has a Sherlock Holmes touch about him at times. Such as when he dazzles Detective Finley with deductions about his background. (Except, please, there’s no such thing as “Harvard tones.” There’s a Boston accent among natives of the area, but that’s different. Child supposedly has a British background, so maybe superimposing Oxford in his mind unto Harvard explains that piece of bizarreness.) It was also entertaining how even when he had been arrested for murder and was being questioned, Reacher was treating Finley more like a colleague investigating the murder with him than his interrogator. That had a kind of cool about it I appreciated in the beginning.
And what’s up with the Blind Blake and the odd music references?
But coincidences pile up (two brothers who haven’t met in years cross paths by chance in a small Georgia town they had never before visited even though one is based in D.C. and the other is a drifter criss-crossing the country), plot holes yawn as wide as canyons (a treasury agent is investigating a case that threatens the United States economy; he’s reported killed and it’s ignored by the Feds), implausibilities stack (Reacher, a West Point graduate who reached the rank of major by 36 has been involuntarily demobilized out of the army because of budget cuts) and as mentioned above, Reacher begins to kill in a way that would make Rambo proud, giving me testosterone poisoning. So, unless someone tells me this series or author got way, way better, this will be my last Lee Child novel. Hell, to be honest, after this experience no matter what anyone tells me this will be my last Lee Child novel. Oh, and in the movie about Reacher, Tom Cruise plays the part of Reacher. Really? Cruise is a tiny guy, Reacher is a giant of a man according to Child. Meh.
Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.