Review: Die Trying by Lee Child

Die TryingA silent: 4 out of 5 stars

My version:
Fiction, thriller.
Transworld Publishers
Bought From The Book Depository

Jack Reacher, alone, strolling nowhere.

A Chicago street in bright sunshine.
A young woman, struggling on crutches.
He offers a steadying arm.

And turns to see a handgun aimed at his stomach.

Chained in a dark van racing across America.
Reacher doesn’t know why they’ve been kidnapped.
The woman claims to be FBI. She’s certainly tough enough.
But at their remote destination, will raw courage be enough to overcome the hopless odds?

Lee Child is now basically giving us (more of) what we want (after having read, enjoyed and bought the first one), filling a gap in the market that he seems to have pretty much created – you know what you got last time, you know what you’re gonna get this time. And so on. So, it is really pretty much now just a question of ‘is this better or worse, than the last one?’ Is this better or worse than the competition that has sprung up around it?’

Well, Die Trying is a lot more complex and longer too, than the first (Killing Floor). No, or not so many, short sentences either. This one’s in long-hand, rather than short-hand. Maybe it’s more an authentic Lee Child style coming through the surface gloss of the first? The story has also come out in the real world, as it were. A town, towns, which actually exist, rather than Hicksville, Mid-South West, which certainly makes a nice change for ‘this sort of thing.’

However, he did get rather bogged down in the middle. I couldn’t really see why he had to go into so much detail about the American fundamentalists. Other than he wanted to write a long book and had to pad out an otherwise slight story? That’s what it looked like to me. Substance and quality, being indicated by size and length in this kind of world. Style-wise, once the story was underway, he went in for a lot of over-egging, prose-wise. There was a lot of pretty unnecessary, long-winded, superfluous, nonsense. I’m not really sure what effect he was after. Almost as if the aim of being different from the short, sharp style of Killing Floor, ran away with him. Or he’s trying to say “look, I’m a proper author, me!” To be absolutely fair here, at least he seems to be trying/wanting to do something with(in) the genre. Trouble is, the plot does once again start down the ‘only in the US of A’ trail, from around the p200 mark.

Otherwise, it did seem strange, that like the first one, Reacher is immediately incarcerated. Ok, this time in the back of a van travelling across who knows where USA, but he’s still being held prisoner, confined in a small space. A van rather than a prison cell?

Problems came when you think that no-one – wives, families, friends – reports the people who – for instance – built the safe room, as missing. No police investigation. And Reacher doesn’t smell 20 dead bodies when he’s in a confined space with them, but he can smell one dead body when he’s out in the forest. That’s a good nose he has there. Or not. Really irritating though, was Reacher doing more shrugging than a French bleeding waiter. Almost every other page. At least his eyebrows stayed where they were, I suppose that’s something. Actually, though there’s generally a lot of shrugging going on, they’re all at it. As I’ve mentioned before, it beats me how authors, proof readers, editors, or other bloggers, fail to spot these things. Clearly there’s only me in the book world with 20/20 vision and to cut a long story short, I haven’t even got that. It does pick up speed (and interest) and does what it should, in the last third. Second half of the last third. Still too long though.

It reads, especially the end section(s) like he’s thinking of the film version. Which, as you know, didn’t happen. Not with this book anyway. Yes, it’s better than the first. More interesting, more realistic – even with the fundamentalist nutters – for being more out in the real world. I’m not going to say though, that it’s better than the others there are out there. Personally, I put Matt Hilton slightly ahead.

And an extra star for the Aston Villa reference. Though it’d have been two, if it’d been Birmingham City.


Buy Die Trying at The Book Depository

Related reviews:
Lee Child: Killing Floor
Matt Hilton: Dead Men’s Dust

Me, on Goodreads

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