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Jack Reacher: different and yet the same

  • May 29, 2010
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Some thriller writers manage to wussify their inventions to the point where they become utterly boring and you willingly go on to live without them. This has happened with Barry Eisler's John Rain character who went from thoughtful nihilist hired assassin to some kind of fluffy do-gooder more likely to found at a protest of the G-7, rather than dispatching people to the Great Beyond.

One would think that with thirteen novels under his belt where he has been building the Jack Reacher character that Lee Child might be tempted to fall into that trap as well. Nope. Instead Child has partially refined Reacher's character while keeping him thriller fiction's toughest contemporary character.

Many will be disappointed by the Jack Reacher in "61 Hours". Reacher is the former career military man who ended his days commanding the 110th MP, a special unit within the Army that handled the tough jobs. Reacher left his command under mysterious circumstances and began a new life, one without any commitments whatsoever. Reacher just travels across the county, the clothes on his back, a toothbrush and an ATM card his only possessions. No home, no roots, few friends in the way we understand them, nothing to keep him in one place.

Fate is always reaching out to Jack Reacher. And fate for Jack Reacher generally takes the form of an innocent person in trouble with no one to defend them - until Reacher comes along. Physically imposing - 6 feet 5 inches - Reacher is quick to employ violence, often lethal and always justified. You always feel good when Reacher has thrashed some bad person (men, women, if they're bad Reader does not discriminate).

This time fate alone has put Reacher on a tour bus half-filled with senior citizens trucking through the upper Midwest in the middle of winter. Not exactly prime time viewing. An ironic twist of fate has the bus running off the road as a blizzard howls in from the west. The police department of Bolton, South Dakota responds and, without warning, Reacher is plunged into it.

A thousand miles to the south in Mexico, a crime lord known only as Plato is getting ready for a big deal that -you guessed it - involves Bolton SD.

In Bolton, the police department has grown quickly to 60 officers because a new prison has been built and the feds offered Bolton a deal it couldn't refuse.

Bolton is not without its problems. A biker gang has taken over an abandoned military complex west of town. A biker has been arrested for dealing meth on the basis of eyewitness testimony. The eyewitness, Janet Salter, is introduced as a retired "teacher and librarian". Which she is. More or less. Her life is presumed to be in danger and Reacher quickly becomes involved with the effort to protect her.

But Plato, who seems to own every third person, is determined that she will die.

In an unusual turn for a Reacher novel, Reacher doesn't wreak his usual physical mayhem. He is much more thoughtful and the story resemble a conventional detective tale in some ways.

Child's plotting flows like warm chocolate syrup. The reader is led effortlessly from one plot device to another. A lawyer is shot dead, between the eyes, on a county road. The weather itself becomes a protagonist, with sub-zero temperatures and a blizzard. Reacher has to out think the assassin. The main characters are well drawn. Reacher has a little more depth than in earlier novels. Chief Holland of the Bollton PD has a little depth, but his deputy Anderson has more. Plato is a caricature of evil and menace. Janet Salter fits the description of "tough old bird". And then there is Susan, the present day commander of the 110th MP. Reacher has to draw upon some resource for information and Susan is it. The interplay between Reacher and Susan, as is often the case in a Reacher novel, has tinges of the romantic.

Events build, one upon another, and Child is expert at building tension. In one chapter, I was literally fearful of moving on because of what I thought would happen. But it turned out the Child was just playing the reader, getting their juices flowing, letting them relax and then POW! There are a few points in the plot that you'll later slap yourself for missing, but not while you're reading the book. Child has produced a true page-turner.

Many Reacher fans will probably miss Reacher's propensity for instant devastating violence. I do. But Child has succeeded in building a Reacher novel where the absence of violence is not the absence of suspense. "61 Hours" is a great thriller. You needn't have read any of the previous Reacher novels to handle this one, though if you like thrillers, you should read all the Reacher books.

Jack Reacher is the best thriller hero around these days - and Lee Child is keeping him as vital and interesting as ever, though less violent.


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More 61 Hours: A Reacher Novel reviews
review by . February 22, 2011
Snow bound
The nomadic Jack Reacher hitches a ride on a tour bus in South Dakota, only to have it skid off the road during an intensifying blizzard. The town folk put up the stranded travelers in their homes, but the police can't provide immediate assistance because of a riot at the new local prison. When one of the cops learns of Reacher's background in law enforcement, they recruit him to provide protection for a key witness in an upcoming drug trial. In a departure for author Child, much of the …
review by . August 28, 2010
As I started reading Lee Child's current best seller with Jack Reacher, something was nagging me. Then I remembered reading his debut novel and then started looking at the many plot similarities between the two books.      In both novels, Reacher is helping the overwhelmed police department in a small town. In "Killing Floor," the action is in Margrove, Georgia. In "61 Hours," the setting is Bolton, South Dakota.      Both stories …
review by . August 05, 2010
OK, I have to start out by saying that I LOVE the Jack Reacher series by Lee Childs. Reacher is a fabulous "hero" figure - retired MP officer from the Army who continues to always be on the move, never carrying a suitcase, going in any direction to see what's down the road. In all the books, he winds up getting involved in dicey situations entirely not of his own making but somehow, feels an obligation to help the person in trouble. The resulting plot moves quickly, is rarely predictable, …
review by . August 06, 2010
I've been a fan of Jack Reacher novels since I read my first Reacher novel 4 years ago. Reacher is the successor to such tough guy/knight in rusted armor protagonists as Travis McGee and Spenser. These are good escapism books and the quality of Lee Child's writing is a couple of cuts above the average for this type of novel. If you are attracted to this kind of book, give Reacher a try. In 61 Hours, Reacher is on another road trip. That's how all the storys go. This one takes …
review by . June 22, 2010
61 Hours is the most odd and least satisfying of all the Jack Reacher novels to date.  I’ve really enjoyed the series so far, but let’s face it, sometimes the plots stretch credulity so badly as to make them simply boilerplate thrillers with a really cool and likable character.  But 61 Hours not only stretches credulity, it is the only Jack Reacher novel to date that I found somewhat boring and unengaging.  Add to that the odd, unbelievable, and unsatisfying cliffhanger …
review by . June 10, 2010
A lawyer travels through the bitter cold and snow, arriving at a South Dakota prison in order to have a conversation with his client. Interestingly, the prisoner does all of the talking, the lawyer simply listens. Leaving the prison and driving back to his home, the lawyer makes a call on his mobile phone. Multitasking while driving isn't a good idea, and the lawyer discovers this as he loses control of his car while going over a very icy bridge.      In the opposite direction …
review by . July 27, 2010
Loner Jack Reacher, the former MP who travels so light he buys new clothes rather than do laundry, is on his action-packed toes in this 14th thriller. It's winter in South Dakota, the snow is piling up and a real storm is on its way.    The 61-hour countdown (the story's framework) begins when a terrified lawyer takes dictated instructions from a prison inmate and passes them down the line to a drug lord in Mexico.    Reacher is hitching a ride with a tour …
Quick Tip by . November 05, 2010
This is not the best Reacher by far.....instead, this is a weak Reacher with a very open ending that did not go over with readers at all well.
review by . June 14, 2010
      It seems there are no more words of praise to be heaped upon Dick Hill's readings. As audio book aficionados know he's a whiz at thrillers, although he does a variety of genres. Hill has been named a Golden Voice and a Voice of the Century by AudioFile magazine, and has a trio of Audie Awards. His name on an audio edition promises an exciting voice performance. He has said that he takes a visual approach to narrating books, noting "I have a visual picture of …
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Jack Reacher is sooooo cooool!!!
About the reviewer
Jerry Saperstein ()
Ranked #194
I am an e-discovery strategist, computer forensics specialist and testifying expert witness - and an avid reader.      Aside from technology books, I love thrillers, suspense, mystery, … more
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About this book


After a brief stop in New York City (Gone Tomorrow), Jack Reacher is back in his element—Smalltown, U.S.A.—in bestseller Child's fine 14th thriller to feature the roving ex-military cop. When a tour bus on which he bummed a ride skids off the road and crashes, Reacher finds himself in Bolton, S.Dak., a tiny burg with big problems. A highly sophisticated methamphetamine lab run by a vicious Mexican drug cartel has begun operating outside town at an abandoned military facility. After figuring out the snow-bound, marooned Reacher's smart, great with weapons, and capable of tapping military intelligence, the helpless local cops enlist his assistance, and, as always, he displays plenty of derring-do, mental acuity, and good old-fashioned decency. While the action is slower than usual, series fans will appreciate some new insights that Child provides into his hero's psyche and background as well as a cliffhanger ending.Author tour. (May)
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ISBN-10: 0385340583
ISBN-13: 978-0385340588
Author: Lee Child
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date Published: 05-18-2010
ISBN: Hard Cover
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