Valyruh’s #CBR5 Review #95: Never Go Back by Lee Child

The latest Jack Reacher novel is centered around a love interest! What?! Reacher hitchhikes his way from South Dakota to northern Virginia because the female Commanding Officer at the old military police unit he ran years earlier has an alluring “come hither” voice, and he just has to meet, dine and—he hopes—bed her. But when he arrives, not only does he discover that she has just been arrested for treason, but that he has not one, but two criminal complaints against him that could land him in military prison for a long time.Great set up, not so great follow up.

Reacher leaps into action, and rigs an implausible escape not only for himself, but for CO Susan Turner, and the two go on a cross-country run together while they try to figure out who’s out to get them, and why? Of course, they are a perfect match of intrepid, fearless, and dedicated, but we somehow know they won’t go off into the sunset together because what would author Child do for his next in the series? In the meanwhile, they have the army, the FBI, the local DC police and four military-like goons on their tail, but every close encounter ends with Reacher handing out broken arms, skulls, legs and fingers like candy, and adding another piece to the endless puzzle they are trying to solve.

The plot itself is ridiculous, [SPOILER HERE] involving a couple of old guys in the upper echelons of military intelligence running an opium den for rich old Washingtonians like themselves, but the repartee between Reacher and his lawyers, Reacher and his pursuers, Reacher and his possible daughter, and Reacher and his lady love almost make it worth slogging through this one. Almost. But not quite. The plot outline held lots of potential, but the story comes off as just plain silly. Note, this is from a die-hard Reacher fan!

Sorry Mr. Child, but it’s time for a reboot. Maybe you can foist this one off on Tom Cruise and call it payback for the terrible job he did with “Jack Reacher,” the movie.

loulamac’s #CBRV review #47: A Wanted Man by Lee Child


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.