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The Affair by Lee Child
== Plot ==
This is the sixteenth and the most recent novel in the Jack Reacher series as of this writing (2011).
Jack Reacher is an elite military cop in the US army who has served for 13 years. He has no real home as such. He has spent most of his younger life moving to military bases all around the world. In most of the other novels in this series, he has left the army and likes to drift around the US from town to town, with only the clothes on his back. He ends up finding trouble wherever he goes.
However, this is set in 1997, just before he left the army. A woman is murdered in a small town, Carter Crossing, Mississippi. The evidence points to a soldier based at the local military base, but his father is an influential politician which means he has powerful people protecting him including elements of the army.
Reacher is ordered by his commanding officer to go undercover and observe and find out what the local police know and to control any information that may damage the army's image.
Reacher wanders down to Carter Crossing, but he does his own thing as usual and undertakes his own investigation into the murder to try to find out the truth . . .
== My thoughts ==
This is written in the first person and it's written as if Reacher is writing about it in the present day, and recalling events from all those years ago. I didn't like the way Reacher kept reminding the reader right the way through that it was 1997. I got it the first time he mentioned it right at the start of the novel. I did like the fact it was set during this time period though. It meant there weren't mobile phones and other technology that could get in the way of the story. It also gave me a chance to find out about Reacher when he was younger and in the army. He is 36 years old in this. You get to see the beginnings of his nomadic lifestyle as he starts to think about civilian life. He starts forming habits like only wearing clothes once and then throwing them away, instead preferring to buy new ones.
I would say you could read this stand-alone if you wanted to, although there are small references to characters that appear in other novels. Francis naigly, a colleague of his and Leon Garber his commanding officer make minor appearances.
There are three or four sex scenes in this which is more than any of his other novels, the first one of which is about half way through. In his other novels, he usually skips over them quite quickly, but in this, they seemed to go on forever. Maybe because Reacher's younger in this. I found the way the narrator voiced them quite funny especially the voice of the woman climaxing. I did think the first sex scene was a bit long and could have been trimmed down.
Even though the novel takes place over four or five days, it felt longer than that. I couldn't tell if it was because I was listening to an audio book or the novel itself, but it felt like it wandered along at a fairly sedate pace. Most of it seemed quite tedious as Reacher settles in and gets used to Carter Crossing. It got better just after three quarters of the way through, as Reacher starts taking some proactive action instead of sitting back and observing.
The plot basically is a murder mystery with Reacher doing his Sherlock Homes thing. The amount of detail he gives about his surroundings can be excessive at times, but it allowed Reacher to show off his investigative abilities. He was able to deduce how the woman had been murdered, by making a few astute observations and with minimal facts. I thought the author managed to do a good job of explaining Reacher's reasoning behind why he thought the crime had been committed in the way it had. One or two times, he seemed to jump to conclusions to easily for example when he predicts the murder victim was strung up by a hunter on a deer trestle because she was hung upside down before she was killed. Saying that, his deductions and reasoning are more believable in this than in some of his other novels.
== Audio narration ==
This is narrated by Dick Hill and is unabridged. I have listened to all the novels in the Reacher series, and they have all been read by him, so now I automatically associate his voice with Reacher. He does have a deep voice which makes you think of a very large bear like man. When the narrator speaks in Reacher's voice, he stretches out certain words and speaks slower than other characters which I found somewhat off-putting. There is also a certain noticeable rhythm to his voice when he speaks in Reacher's voice - He seems to pause randomly after reading a few words, which I didn't like. I noticed it less as the novel went along though. He doesn't do this when Reacher is actually speaking out loud, but it seems to appear when Reacher is ruminating or talking to the reader.
I noticed he changes his voice by speaking in a nasally voice for most of the other male characters. It isn't original but it works and helps in distinguishing between them.
This audio book was 14 hours and 5 mins in length. The novel did seem to drag on forever especially up to about three quarters of the way in.
== Summary and recommendation ==
Overall, I thought this starts off slow and gets better near the end. I would say this wasn't as good as his other novels including 61 Hours. I found it interesting to see Reacher when he was younger and still in the army. I would have to give it two stars. The ending is well executed, but I had to wade through the rest of the novel which was very slow. I can only recommend this to die hard Reacher fans.