A couple of weeks ago I was in the Bookazine in The Avenue, and picked up “True Colours”, written by Stephen Leather. In my review I mentioned another couple of writers of thrillers, notably Lee Child and Christopher G Moore. When in Bookazine again this week, I noticed that Lee Child’s book starring his hero Jack Reacher “A Wanted Man” (ISBN 978-0-553-82553-4, Bantam Books, 2013) was on the shelf beside “True Colours”. Taking this to be an omen, I took “A Wanted Man” home with me.
Like all of the Reacher series, the pace is on from page 1 and Child’s ability to spin a story and keep you interested is almost without par. You begin to hunger for the next page which you hope will tell you whether your imagination is on the correct track. It won’t be! He is good in placing a ‘teaser’ at the end of a chapter, making the reader turn the page to the new chapter to explain what was coming next.
Child’s Jack Reacher also plays games in his mind to keep boredom at bay, doing verbal and mathematical puzzles, to which I can relate as I do similar with car number plates! Reacher, however, sees codes in his mind games.
Getting back to the differences and similarities between the two heroes as seen by Leather and Child, both Leather’s Spider Shepherd and Child’s Jack Reacher are not averse to bar-room fighting, though the 6’5″ Reacher would appear to be more menacing.
For me, the principal difference between Spider Shepherd and Jack Reacher is on their ability to overcome their foes. Shepherd is more circumspect and scientific in his approach, while Reacher spends his time weighing up the statistical approach. Reacher also seems to be able to win against incredible odds, outnumbered and out-gunned.
Laconic humor comes through in Child’s prose. Describing a situation in which a local law enforcement officer is about to be visited by many secret agents, the CIA agent said, “… You’ll be knee deep in agents. You’ll have so many here you can put a couple on traffic duty. You can find out who drops gum on the sidewalk.”
Every acronym known in law enforcement is dotted through the book, and America appears to have even more than most. The CIA and SWAT immediately recognizable. The author introduces a host of characters (male and female) and the reader is made to wonder just who is friend or foe.
There are problems with the different groups trying to find just who outranks whom!
Child’s Reacher knows his firepower, “A car, three phones, a Glock 19, two Glock 17’s and eighty-eight rounds of nine-millimeter ammunition. Good to go.”
At B. 350, these excellent paperbacks seem to be getting cheaper and cheaper and this one will afford you a great weekend’s read. Take my word for it.
As an aside, Jack Reacher has made the celluloid screen, played by Tom Cruise who is about a foot (300 mm) shorter than Child’s Reacher. They had him standing on telephone directories perhaps, while mowing down several thugs with a machine gun?