In the Financial Times, Lee Child lamented that the rise of eBooks is hurting bookshops: "It is the individual stores, independents and some chains that create new authors. They invest in them and push them. That mechanism has been finely tuned and is going to disappear completely. Where will new authors get their start?" And in fact Lee Child dedicates his sixteenth Jack Reacher novel to the memory of David Thompson, a fine bookseller and a good friend. This is just one reason why I love Lee Child. It looks like his sense of right and wrong pervades his life as well as his Reacher world.
Child's inspiration for Reacher is actually Sir Lancelot. I had previously thought it was Robin Hood. Lancelot, banished from court for an unknown reason, was condemned to wander the land looking for good deeds. Well, there is much that is corrupt in the U.S. of A., particularly in the corridors of power, and Reacher easily stumbles from one bad apple to another. In the first novel, Killing Floor, the highly decorated military cop has just left the army. No background is given and, of course, through his next 14 adventures we often wonder what led to his spontaneous army exit. Now we find out and it is well worth the wait!
This is a guy who wanders about with no identification, one change of clothes, loves coffee, hamburgers, and diners, and yes, opera too. He is so strong that he can kill people with the flick of an elbow, so kind that he cannot walk away from someone in trouble. Of course, what he hates most of all is the combo of hypocrisy and power, so most of his tribulations have to do with nasty greedy guys and sleazy politicians. When I interviewed South Africa's most popular crime writer, Deon Meyer, I asked him why he thought the Reacher character was so popular. He said that everyone is looking for the good and moral man and that is definitely Jack Reacher.
The nutshell plot: Reacher is commanded to go undercover to a small town in Mississippi where there is a huge covert military base. There has been a rape and murder. The orders come from Washington. A very influential senator's son might be the perp. Reacher gets involved with the beautiful sherrif who is trying to get to the the ugly bottom. Get the picture?
Many of you have read all of the Reacher novels. This one won't let you down. It has all of the wonderfully exact details that make the books so alive. What will Lee Child do for his next book? Will Reacher ever settle down? Will we learn more about his childhood? What's his brother really like? The beat goes on!
- Barb Minett