by Gloria Feit
With Jack Reacher the movie coming out this weekend, it seemed the perfect time to review the book it’s based on, One Shot, and Lee Child’s latest Reacher book A Wanted Man. At the end of this post is a chance to win copies of both books! Also included is a bonus review of Jack Reacher Rules. Use the Amazon purchase links in this article and a portion goes to help support KRL.
One Shot By Lee Child
As I am among those looking forward to the upcoming film simply called Jack Reacher [or not, in view of the controversy surrounding the fact that Tom Cruise will play the lead], I thought I’d go back to the book, initially published in 2005 and now with a new “Movie Tie-In Edition,” before seeing the film. I tried to put everything that’s transpired in Jack Reacher’s life in the years since 2005 in the recesses of my mind to come at this book fresh [so to speak].
The novel jumps right in with a scene fraught with tension: A person described only as “the man with the rifle” is putting into motion an obviously well-thought-out plan, in a scene that culminates with him using a rifle to kill five people, strangers all, each with one shot to the head, in a business area in the heartland south of Indianapolis, Indiana teeming with people leaving work into the heart of the rush hour, and then escapes scant minutes before all hell breaks loose.
Forensics give the police enough data to name a suspect, a 41-year-old US Army veteran, an infantry specialist [read “sniper”] who they quickly, in the early hours of the following morning, take into custody. Ironically, a newly minted attorney who just happens to be the daughter of the District Attorney handling the case agrees to defend the accused man at the behest of his sister. The man himself has refused to speak with anyone, prosecutors or defense attorney, other than to say “Get Jack Reacher for me.” Enigmatic, to say the least, since their past encounter had been less than friendly.
Reacher himself is en route, having seen and read all about the massacre. As the author describes it: “Mostly he had rocked and swayed and dozed on buses, watching the passing scenes, observing the chaos of America…His life was like that. It was a mosaic of fragments. Details and contexts would fade and be inaccurately recalled, but the feelings and the experiences would weave over time into a tapestry equally full of good times and bad.” And as we all now know, Reacher is an imposing man, in mind and body, and doesn’t let anything stop him when on a mission, having been honorably discharged seven years ago as a major in the army, and for fourteen years an MP. (He’s also a man who knows every stat about every professional baseball player who ever played for the NY Yankees.) And to steal a line from an old James Bond movie, nobody does it better.
The same could be said for Lee Child. Ingeniously plotted, wonderfully well-written, terrifically entertaining, and highly recommended.
A Wanted Man By Lee Child
The action in this newest in the Jack Reacher series begins with a body discovered in what is apparently an abandoned pumping station in rural Nebraska, an eyewitness able to give only scant details of the two men he saw with the victim, and who drove away in a bright red car afterwards. Very shortly thereafter, in addition to the local police, representatives of several governmental agencies designated by groups of letters such as CIA and FBI descend on the area. An alert is quickly put in place on all highways along the area interstates for the two men.
Jack Reacher is variously described here as ex-military, specifically a former major in the Criminal Investigation Division of the Military Police, now unemployed and essentially homeless, self-described, most pertinently here, as “just a guy, hitching rides.” On the same mid-winter night, he has been standing at the side of an on-ramp for over an hour when he is given a ride in a car with two men and a woman inside, his ultimate destination being Virginia. That destination and his present appearance, the main feature of which is a badly broken nose, are the aftermath of vents at the end of the last book in the series; an imposing figure overall, the broken nose is probably the main reason why it took so long for him to be offered a ride.
Initially the points of view alternate between Reacher and Julia Sorenson, the FBI Special Agent first called to the crime scene, a very capable 25-year Bureau veteran out of the Omaha field office. Eventually their paths cross, and they work together to get to the bottom of what turns out to be anything but your average murder.
The book is everything one can expect in a Lee Child/Jack Reacher novel, including terrific plotting and characterizations, and especially Reacher himself, who, when asked by one of the men in the car that picked him up, “You don’t like to be pushed around, do you, Mr. Reacher?” responds “I don’t know. I’ve never been pushed around. If it ever happens, you’ll be the first to find out whether I like it or not.” He demonstrates once again his vast knowledge of relatively arcane trivia, such as the population and area codes of almost any spot in the United States. It’s great to have him back, and the novel, one I swiftly devoured, is highly recommended.
Jack Reacher’s Rules Featuring an introduction by Lee Child
The first thing you should know about this slim, wonderful book is that it is not a novel, something that is immediately apparent, but is instead just what it states it is: A compilation of Rules fashioned by Jack Reacher, the iconic protagonist of 17 books by Lee Child, as well as a new eponymous film, and culled from all those novels.
All “rules” included will be familiar to the many fans of Mr. Child’s creation, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t bring smiles of recognition, and pleasure. The headings include such Rules as “Be Prepared,” “Breaking and Entering,” “Choose Your Weapons,” and 55 others.
There are a number of things within these pages under the heading of “Things you’ll never hear Reacher Say,” including “No more coffee for me” and “Call me on my cell,” guaranteed to elicit those smiles. There are tidbits such as instructions for “The best way to break a finger,” and “If you get a lift, give a destination. Saying ‘anywhere’ sounds like you’re a drifter who wants to go home with them,” enlightening if nothing else. There are also many factual sections that are very interesting, which many readers may know in a superficial way and which are given more detail here, e.g., The Wimbledon Cup [the Marine Sniper School competition]; West Point; the “10-“ Codes used by the Military Police; and “A Medley of Military Acronyms,” which includes The Patriot Act, which I never realized was an acronym: “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act.”
These and others like them comprise the contents of this delightful book, sure to be a favorite of Reacher fans [“The Reacher Creatures,” as they are fondly known], an introduction for those not yet among that group, and a perfect holiday gift for members of both, and recommended.
To enter to win a copy of One Shot & A Wanted Man, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “Lee”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 29, 2012. U.S. residents only.
Watch for a review of the movie here in KRL soon.