Review: Without Fail – Lee Child

without-fail-lee-child4 of 5 stars

Jack Reacher 6

My version:
Fiction Thriller, Crime
Bantam, Transworld

Jack Reacher walks alone.

No job, no ID, no last known address.

But he never turns down a plea for help.

Now a woman tracks him down.

A woman serving at the very heart of US power.

A woman who needs Reacher’s assistance in her new job.

Her job?

Protecting the Vice-President of the United States.

Her problem?

Someone wants the VP dead.

So I was thinking. It’s clearly unsettling that Jack Reacher has no job, no ID, no place where he goes back to at the end of the day, no relatives (still alive), no wife, family etc. For what is someone who hasn’t those things? Especially the employment thing. How many times have you chatted with, or met someone new, who pretty much straight out the box asks you ‘so, what do you do?’ Meaning, ‘what is your job?’ Meaning you are only someone, in many people’s eyes, when they can put you in a little job-sized pigeon hole. Clearly, Jack Reacher can not be put into a pigeon hole, not on first meeting. When it comes out he is ex-army, people relax…they know where he is in the world. When he says he wants to move on, anywhere, they’re unsettled again. You’ve seen the film About A Boy with him there Hugh Grant? That’s what I’m on about. He is a lay-about, who mixes in good circles, thanks to money made off a jingle he wrote, or his father wrote or something like that. But he doesn’t do anything. People ask him ‘what do you do?’ as if without a job description, he is invisible, not worth bothering with, unsettling. That irritated the shit out of me. Not that Hugh Grant didn’t have a job, but that people thought it remark-upon outrageous that he didn’t do anything. That’s where we are with Reacher. If it was intentional from Lee Child, I don’t know. Clearly a self-contained, self-assured Reacher with no ties of any sort, allows Lee Child to send him pretty much anywhere. But maybe, he wanted also to set Reacher to grate with the people he comes up against, to irritate them by not conforming to everything they have had to conform to. To expose their doubts, their insecurities and say to them, you could have done it, like me, if you had wanted. Then they get angry, because they would have liked to have done what Reacher does, but lacked the courage.

Maybe just me then?

So, anyway, after a bit of a hiccup (for me, it clearly could have been your favourite book of all-time) with Echo Burning, Lee Child has Jack Reacher back on the boil in Without Fail. It’s a different type of story from Echo Burning too. More good old fashioned police/detective work, peeling away the laters of the plot to reveal the ‘whodunnit.’ Maybe Reacher needed a break from nameless little, middle of nowhere towns with dodgy sherifs and rednecks with a grudge.At everyone who didn’t come from where they did. Lord knows every thriller writer sets at least one of his/her books there, it’s pretty much a cliched rite of passage. Anyway, Without Fail is much better. It’s, as usual, a long one, but this time, Lee Child uses the extra word-acres to good effect. It’s not quite up there in my Top Three Reacher’s as yet (I am reading them in published sequence and this is as far as I’ve got at the moment), but it’s certainly bubbling under. There seemed to be less hand on/in face violence here, perhaps LC was wanting to showcase Reachers thinking side, certainly Reacher gets breaks by figuring things out, rather than punching them out of people. Still, I’m not sure how old Reacher is at this point – and there are, what? thirteen more in the series (so far)? He’s gonna have to start relying on his brainpower, rather than his fist power, sooner rather than later. The problem there would be, that people buy Reacher books to ‘see’ him beat up the bad guys. As even Tom Cruise was looking a bit rougher than usual in the second film recently, it’s a problem Lee Child has – to age Reacher, or not. Just have him constantly in the same time period in effect. I’ll look forward to looking out for that in future volumes.

You can buy Without Fail at The Book Depository

I’m also on Goodreads

Related reviews on Speesh Reads:

Killing Floor

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