Picture the scene. I’m on my summer sunshine holiday, charging through books as I sunbathe and glug beer (check out my multi-tasking), when my Kindle dies. Thank god I’m at my Grandpa’s villa, and my Grandpa has a bit of a trashy thriller habit. THANK GOD. I’m not averse to a bit of Jack Reacher, so this fall-back position wasn’t too bad.
The book opens in Nebraska. There is one unreliable eye-witness to a bloody murder, and Special Agent Julia Sorenson from the FBI’s Omaha field office is sent to investigate. Meanwhile Reacher, en route to Virginia to meet the woman-on-the-end-of-the-phone from 61 Hours, is picked up hitchhiking on the interstate. The group that picks him up has a strange dynamic, and it’s not long before Reacher realises something is up. And boy is it. We’ve got a missing cocktail waitress, undercover FBI agents, mysterious Middle-Eastern connections, and Reacher has a broken nose. Excellent.
A Wanted Man is the seventeenth Jack Reacher novel, the fourth one I’ve read, and I must say, Lee Child doesn’t let you down. The prose is skilfully simple; the plot is sufficiently complicated to keep you interested, but not so much that it feels contrived; the characters are well-drawn enough that you care about them; and Jack continues to be preposterously charismatic, in his ‘rough edges’ kind of way. Child is as mad about him as ever, one glowing paragraph describes him as:
‘A wild man. But not really. Underneath everything else he seemed strangely civilised. He had moved with a kind of considered grace, calm and contained. He had spoken the same way, thinking ahead… Straight to the heart of the matter. Knowledgeable, and confident. His gaze was both wise and appealing, both friendly and bleak, both frank and utterly cynical.’
I suppose Child feels the same as all of us, we’d like to either be Reacher or go for a beer with him. Hanging out with him while he fascinated yet more women and foiled another set of bad guys was good fun.