Review: The Hard Way – Lee Child

4 of 5 stars

Series: Jack Reacher 10

My version: Paperback
Fiction Thriller
Bantam Books

Jack Reacher is alone, the way he likes it.

He watches a man cross a New York street and drive away in a Mercedes. The car contains $1 million of ransom money. Reacher’s job is to make sure it all turns out right – money paid, family safely returned.

But Reacher is in the middle of a nasty little war where nothing is simple. What started on a busy New York street explodes three thousand miles away, in the sleepy English countryside.

Reacher’s going have to do this one the hard way.

The Hard Way, seems to be doing things without coincidences and solutions falling into your lap. Working the clues, examining the evidence, as I think Reacher is fond of saying. That’s all very well…

But…what is it and Lee Child and British people’s teeth, for fuck’s sake?! Lee Child is – or was, he may have changed now – English and presumably still has English teeth. OK, we don’t look like the bleeding Osmonds, but then who wants to? British teeth are, in my experience, no better, no worse than American people’s teeth. Given the portion sizes – and arse sizes – over there and the amount of fast food Americans eat, I’d venture that English teeth are more likely to me markedly better than US teeth. But, and maybe because Child has taken US citizenship and there is a clause therein that says you must take on board the teeth cliche (you probably have to call English people Limeys as well), Mr Child labours (with a fucking U) the point, again and again. And again. That’s what kept it off a five from me. Unnecessarily repeating a false cliche. He’s probably after a job in Trump’s government (I use the word ‘govern’ in its most shambolic sense, obviously).

Other  than that…it’s very good. Hangs together very well indeed. I do like that Reacher gets absolutely nowhere for most of the book. Obviously, there are a few clues scattered here and there and – and only because I tried to do it – I managed to figure it out before the reveal, which at least made me feel good. Lee Child has cut back on the filler again, as I’ve noted before, it’s still a satisfying getting your money’s worth size, but there’s not a lot of wastage. The writing style can be a little mechanical at times, but the improvement over the first two or three, is noticeable. There are whole sentences nowadays, for instance. They could even film this one as well, I’d say, the stuff about the private army and that, would go down very well these days (even though this is now 11 years old). Maybe that’s what’s good about Reacher, what appeals, he is timeless. There is technology in the story, Reacher is largely aware of it, but he has pretty much chosen not to be either aware of it, or use it. So, brain-power and working the clues will never date him. Maybe that is what has taken Reacher to such a wide audience. The hook of the first few books, of Reacher being able to beat just about anyone up he wanted to, when necessary, has been absent for a while now (though there was a bit last time out), so it’s all about plot and Reacher’s brain-power these days.

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