I majored in English. Read some of the finest books known to man. I also like good food. Sometimes, though, I want McDonalds and Jack Reacher. You know it’s not High Art, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t want it to be. You want it to be a McChicken and a milkshake and Jack Reacher beating the shit out of a white supremacist: it’s just really easy to wolf down.
Child doesn’t waste much time dropping us in the middle of some nefarious shenanigans, as per usual: Jack Reacher pretty much walks into a kidnapping from the get-go; as he helps FBI-agent Holly Johnson carry her dry-cleaning, a group of men drags the both of them into a van and drives off to an unknown location. Because Reacher is Reacher he pretty quickly devises a way out for himself, but he refuses to leave Holly behind, and so they both get taken all the way from Chicago to an evil White Supremacist Lair, which, sadly, is a theme that’s become a lot more relevant over the past years.
The book rushes past familiar lines – Jack Reacher Is A Better Shooter Than Everyone, Jack Reacher Outsmarts His Enemies, Jack Reacher Plays Psychogical Games And Wins, Jack Reacher Takes 300 Pages To Figure Out The Details But Whatever – and though it’s predictable that Jack Reacher will come out victorious because he is Jack Reacher and this is book 2 in a series of approximately 5,547 it’s still tense as hell. And Child builds tension like no other. The scariest part is not the standoff with the white supremacists of figuring out who the mole is, though those parts are good too, but Reacher getting stuck in an extremely narrow cave, all on his own, without anyone knowing he’s there. It’s as close to human as we’ll ever see him, I guess.
As for the other characters, well, the Bad Guys are cardboard, though their leader is a genuinely scary dude. Holly is alright; Reacher books are remarkably not sexist, especially for books from the 90s. The book needs someone for Reacher to protect and rescue because that is how they work, but Holly is far from a passive victim to her own demise. She’s calm and analytical and takes matters into her own hands instead of waiting for Reacher to rescue her. As a character she’s a bit thin, but nevertheless, I’ve seen much worse. Reacher, for his part, manages his crush on her without being a creep about it, which is refreshing.
I really wanted to not like these books, because I am a snob, and sure, it’s not the best I’ve read, but I had fun. Good, old-fashioned fun. I kind of can’t wait to read the next eight-hundred installments.