Book Review: The Enemy

LC_us_pb09Novels contain an immense amount of geography.

The fifth book I’ve read by Lee Child in two months. The guy can put a story together. 

Take equal parts of the best procedural crime novel you’ve read with parts of the Walking Tall movie series and that gives you Jack Reacher series of novels. 

For series authors, I give them two books to draw me in. After that, with paperbacks as expensive as they are, I’m either in or out. For example, I read Double Cross, by James Patterson. Out after the first book. I know he is popular, but his plot mechanics and writing; no. I might try again later but I was not enthused about his style.

After my first Lee Child book, I bought another. And, another. And, another. Child can write. His prose is short, succinct, to the point. Every sentence means something; no fluff, no worthless emotions, no worthless dialogue, no page after page of wandering philosophical thoughts, or page upon page of character development, or setting the scene.

Child gets right to work. Not that he does not set the scene, not that he does not include backstory, or develop characters. He does that, the way development should occur, through character action and dialogue. Jack Reacher, the former Army MP Major, unfolds as a character through actions and dialogue, not by thinking his way through the book.

Here is what I mean. I recently read, The Keep, by another favorite author of mine, F Paul Wilson. The book is over 300 pages long but if you only considered dialogue, that would reduce the page count by 80%, at least. Lots of lots of backstory, the main characters “think” about everything, only releasing snippets of information when engaged with other characters. I can tolerate that, as The Keep is part of a series of books that share a common theme, but I really do not care for that too much.

Child develops Jack Reacher in his books by having Jack do stuff, and talk to people, and people act and react around him. In that way, we learn what Jack is like.

Child’s plots are, well, not child-like. As I read, I envision that he has an elaborate board of plot details, Post-it notes of timelines, people, events; almost as if he, the author, is trying to solve the case just ahead of Reacher. The amount of detail, conversations, plot complications, and action excellent.

Ok, so what is the novel about?

Jack finds himself swiftly pulled from his MP duty station in Panama to a desk jockey job at an Army Base in North Carolina for no particular reason. His confusion is replaced by irritation, as literally days after his arrival, a 2-Star general is found dead in a cheap motel. Within hours, the general’s wife is found bludgeoned in their off-base home. Being the military equivalent of the Homicide Squad, Reacher and his aide scour U.S. and European military bases for clues to the deaths, finding conspiracies and cover-ups, hostile Delta Force members, and little help along the way. 

But, Reacher is not subtle and suffers not the person that stands in the way of the truth and justice, justice which he is not completely uncomfortable in meting out.

Looking for a great, action series that is not mind-numbing, and far-fetched, a la Cussler? Read some Jack Reacher/Lee Child books.

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