"I was thirty-six years old, a citizen of a country I had barely seen, and there were places to go and there were things to do. There were cities, and there was countryside. There were mountains, and there were valleys. There were rivers. There were museums, and music, and motels, and clubs, and diners, and bars, and buses. There were battlefields and birthplaces, and legends, and roads. There was company if I wanted it, and there was solitude if I didn't.
"Reacher is the alpha male of the genre."
The audacious breadth and scope of this series continues to amaze me. One book, the ex-MP drifter (Silver Star, Purple Heart) with the seldom-talked about past and way too much training is digging swimming pools or trying to help a rancher's wife out of a domestic jam; the next time he's hired to try and kill the Vice President designate. JACK REACHER may not want trouble, but it sure seems to find him. Reacher's absolute confidence in his abilities, and his unerring sense of what is and isn't right stands out in a world of conflicted detectives. I mean, this guy's icy confidence makes Spenser look like he has self-esteem issues.
There's also no doubt that Reacher is a wingnut. His almost psychotic obession with being his own man means he has no fixed address (he refers to himself simply as "a guy who doesn't like to stick around"), and carries nothing but, almost literally, the shirt on his back. No laundromats for Jack. And his most cherish possession may be a portable toothbrush. In Bad Luck and Trouble, an old army buddy, having watched Jack trash his old clothes and buy equally cheap replacements, points out that he could have kept the old shirt.
And yet, there's a lot of wit here, too, and even a certain amount of playfulness. In Without Fail, there's a great Forrest Gump-like scene, where Jack's sucked into a press interview, and asked his thoughts on the use of overwhelming force. ("Yes, I still support overwhelming force. That's for sure. I support it big time. Always have, believe me.") And there's a small, tender scene of such powerful but unspoken passion between a man and a woman that the fact it doesn't lead anywhere will crack your heart.
I've read several in this series and I'm heading back to find the others. This is a Mens' Adventure book for men (and women) who can read with their mouths closed and their minds (and hearts) open. Smart, literate and just good old-fashioned thrilling. And always fascinating. Reacher seems capable of being anywhere, doing anything, and each book finds him somewhere else down the road, travelling through an America where the bad moon is always on the rise.
A fantasy fugure? Maybe. But oh what fun. Imagine Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer locked and loaded, and coming to town near you. David Janssen's character in the old The Fugitive TV series as a basass. Or Tarzan in a cheap T-shirt. Or maybe Bulldog Drummond, that perennial British action hero, updated and shipped across the Atlantic.
Heartily and highly recommend.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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