Jack Reacher
Created by Lee Child (pseudonym of James Grant)

"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.

I picked a road at random, and I put one foot on the curb and one in the traffic lane, and I stuck out my thumb."

--
Reacher finally lays out his gameplan in The Affair (2011)

"Reacher is the alpha male of the genre."
-- Lee Child in 2012
Playboy Interview

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.

"Slippery slope," Reacher said. "I carry a spare shirt, pretty soon I'm carrying spare pants. Then I'd need a suitcase. Next thing I know, I've got a house and a car and a savings plan and I'm filling out all kinds of forms."

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.

In 2012, Paramount released Jack Reacher, a feature film adaptation of Child's novel One Shot, starring Tom Cruise, of all people. A surprising casting choice, perhaps, and certainly when it was first announced that Cruise would be playing Reacher the hue and cryspread throughout the land. Cruise was 100 pounds -- and a foot shy -- of the ex-MP's over-sized stature. But damn, he pulled it off. It was an enjoyable romp, and what Cruise lacked in physical size, he more than made up for in other ways. For a couple of hours, anyway, you could believe Tom Cruise could kick your ass -- or anybody else's. I guess that's why they call it acting. The closing scene, on a bus taking Reacher out of town, was one of my favourite movie scenes of the year, and hopefully a promise of more to come.

EVIDENCE

  • "I don't really care about the little guy. I just hate the big guy. I hate big smug people who think they can get away with things."
    -- Reacher explains his motives, Persuader

  • "Where have you been since you left the service?" Froelich asked. "You haven't left much of a paper trail."
    "That was the plan," Reacher said. "I keep myself to myself."
    -- Reacher defends his lifestyle,
    Without Fail
    .
  • "She floated her hand on the air and kept it motionless. Then she pressed harder and brought it down and her fingers touched the back of his hand, very lightly. She turned her elbow so her hand lay precisely aligned. Then she pressed down harder. Her palm felt warm. Her fingers were long and cool. Their tips lay on his knuckles. They moved and traced the lines and scars and tendons. They raked down between his. He turned his hand over. She pressed her palm into his. Laced her fingers through his fingers and squeezed. He squeezed back.
    .
    He held her hand for five long minutes. Then she slowly pulled it away. Stood up and stepped to the door. Smiled.
    .
    "See you in the morning," she said.
    (ibid.)

  • "She had... the kind of smile that starts the AC running."
    --
    The Affair

NOVELS

............

SHORT STORIES

  • "James Penney's New Identity" (1999, Fresh Blood III; also 2006, Thriller)
    Features a pre-Killing Floor Jack Reacher in a key role.
  • "Guy Walks into a Bar..." (June 7, 2009, The New York Times)
  • "Second Son" (August 2011, ebook) .Kindle it!
  • "Deep Down" (July 2012, ebook).. Kindle it!
  • "High Heat" (August 2013, ebook).. Kindle it!
  • "Good and Valuable Consideration" (2014, FaceOff; with Joseph Finder's Nick Heller)
  • "Not a Drill" (July 2014, ebook).. Kindle it!

COLLECTIONS

  • Three Jack Reacher Novellas (2014).. Buy the audio
    Collects the novellas "Deep Down," "Second Son" and "High Heat," plus Jack Reacher's Rules.

OTHER BOOKS

  • Jack Reacher's Rules (2012).. Buy this book.. Kindle it!
    For the restless soul, travelling light is definitely the way to go. A folding toothbrush, the cheap T-shirt on your back, some good walking shoes and, maybe, just maybe, this handy dandy tongue-in-cheek guide to life, crammed full of wisdom and words to live by, such as Rule #1: "When in doubt, drink coffee." Or #4 "Only one woman at a time." Of course, following #4 may also help with #3. "Don't break the furniture." See how practical it is?

FILMS

  • JACK REACHER..Buy this DVD..Buy the Blu-Ray
    (2012, Paramount)
    118 minutes
    Based on the novel
    One Shot by Lee Child
    Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie
    Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
    Starring Tom Cruise as JACK REACHER
    Also starring Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, Richard Jenkins, Alexia Fast, David Oyelowo, Jai Courtney, Vladimir Sizov, Joseph Sikora, Michael Raymond-James,
    Like almost everyone else on the planet I thought that Tom Cruise was horribly miscast as Lee Child's Grade A Extra-Large tough guy, coming in a foot short and a hundred pounds light, but I guess that's why it's called acting. Cruise nails the ex-MP drifter to the wall in this taut downbeat thriller that recalls the crunch and grit of classic seventies crime flicks. There's no pretty boy glitz or reliance on headspinning special effects -- just hard-knock storytelling and a solid cast that includes Robert Duvall,Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, Richard Jenkins and Alexia Fast. Suffice it to say I was pleasantly surprised.

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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