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61 Hours is the 14th book of Child Jack Reacher novels and has been as successful as the rest. There will be 2 types of people reading this, those who will have read the other novels and those who have no clue who the heck Jack Reacher is. And it is for the latter that I think a little information may be useful.
Jack Reacher is a 6' 5" ex Military Policeman who bought up in the military by his parents, graduated West Point and went straight into the army. He was highly decorated including the Silver Star and Legion of Merit, even though he didn't always behave quite as he should.
He now spends his town going from town to town with nothing more than a toothbrush and an ATM card. However he does manage to get himself into all manner of scrapes.
In this particular tale he finds himself on a tour bus going through South Dakota. Unfortunately this particular bus skids and crashes. There's nowhere else for him to go except the town of Bolton where all the passengers are taken to stay with local residents until a new bus can be arranged.
In true Reacher fashion he arrives in the middle of a drugs war with a mysterious group apparently making methamphetamine in a disused army facility.
A court case hangs on the testimony of one woman but someone's coming to stop her, can Reacher prevent that and crack some other mysteries at the same time?
Plato is the criminal mastermind behind the drugs cartel. He's a most unpleasant character, small in stature but with thoughts of grandeur that sometimes belie his intelligence. Plato isn't above torturing and killing if he has to and he bleeds dry all those he has dealings with.
Plato could easily have been turned into a caricature by Child like so many Mexican drug lords are but he manages to avoid this. His balancing of this 4' 11" man with his big attitude is done so it doesn't become a comedy character.
Lieutenant Andrew Peters is your home-grown small town cop and in some places it shows. He has some insight but it's usually Reachers advising him what to do and how to solve things. I would have liked to have seen a little more strength in this character and the problems with his wife are left unsaid. Perhaps this is deliberate for details I can't reveal.
Captain Holland is my least favourite character by far. There's a little depth to him but not enough especially as he is so important, but again this may be deliberate.
The witness is Janet Slater and she's a wonderful character. It would have been so easy to turn her into this 'Southern Belle' elderly lady kind of character who sits and waits for a man to save the day. But this is by no means true. We see that this lady has a spine made of steel, making us believe that when the assassin come she'll be protecting the police, not the other way around.
The Environment - Yes I know it's a bit strange to think of the surroundings as characters but here they are. The prison just outside the town which provides the towns economy is the bogeyman; it's the character that controls the action. When the sirens go off all the police have to go to it leaving Janet Slater unprotected. Her protectors know it will go off but when and why adds the element of excitement to the tale.
The weather is important also, it reflects Reachers mood and he really does hate the cold. It probably is Reachers greatest adversary in the book, its used to excellent effect at one point when it doesn't quite go as Reacher wanted.
Of course we can't forget Jack Reacher, as ever the biggest character in the book. He's his usual granite self, self sufficient and self reliant. Reacher doesn't waste words, he's definitely not a flowery speech kind of guy. But here we get a tiny chink under the armour, Reacher makes a mistake and he doesn't like that. He's not some kind of automaton striding through the book though. Child does give Reacher depth, just not the conventional kind.
The book reads a little like Reacher, fluid but not saying more than it needs to. Some of the sentences can be quite short and static but never dull. It says what needs to be said but no emotive sentence filling or floweriness. Many writers would end up making it dull. But this style of writing makes you want to stick to the story in hand not get distracted by other matters. For example the character of Janet Slater and her belief in duty and doing the right thing. It would have been tempting to do a whole diatribe of say, how her father instilled into her this notion, or how her brother was killed using drugs and this was her revenge. But no, it's a duty and that's that. I love this style of writing when its done as well as this.
Why 61 Hours? Well, that's how long this story lasts from beginning to the finale. The time that's left is repeated throughout the book and is an excellent way to build up the suspense.
This isn't a twisty turny, bluff, double bluff kind of tale. No we don't know who the assassin is but there none of that faffing about to get there. Yes it's a who-will-dunnit and will keep you guessing but it's much more that that. As is Jack Reacher, each tale lets us see just a bit more of him and I cant wait for the next one!
For those who havent read any before its also a good stand-alone book as what has happened in the previous books isnt really that important.
Jack Reacher doesn't stay anywhere long, he's ex-army and used to being on the move, but it looks like he's going to have to stay in Bolton, South Dakota longer than he wants to. What makes it worse is that it wasn't even his intended destination. His bus crashes in a gathering snow storm and Jack has no choice but to stay in Bolton until the weather eases. Unfortunately for Jack, that's not the worst of it. There's been a murder in the town and it looks like there's another target and she's going to need Jack's help.
61 Hours is not the first book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series (in fact, it's the 14th), but it's the first Jack Reacher book, and indeed the first Lee Child book, that I've read. I found that it didn't matter that I hadn't read the other books. I got a real feel for the main character of Jack Reacher, despite him coming across as a man who probably doesn't want people to know much about him.
This story is full of tension and mystery, with some action thrown in. There's even a little hint of a relationship for Jack, which (from what I've read) is a rare occurrence due to his lifestyle. The writing is descriptive (like you could be right there), but to the point and there's no rest in the story, it's all there for a reason. It makes you want to keep reading and turning the pages.
The book counts down the hours throughout the story. To start off with it's kind of annoying, because the reader doesn't know what the count-down is for. Around page 100 (out of 493), I got an idea of what was at the end of the count-down, but looking back, I didn't really know what the count down was counting down to until the end. And even now, I'm not entirely sure... I've got a need to read the next book in the series, Worth Dying For, and it doesn't come out until the end of the month!
You know what? Lee Child is good! I've read one book and now I need to read a second. That's a very good way to sell books!
'61 Hours' is the 14th outing for Jack Reacher, the roaming ex-Military Policeman brought to life by author Lee Child. It was with little enthusiasm that I picked this up, the stories have been on a downward trend since 'One Shot', the 9th book, with the last three being particularly poor. However, the early reviews seemed promising so I hoped it was a return to form which it was, and it wasn't.
The one thing Lee Child does consistently well is write excellent openings. The last book 'Gone Tomorrow' was really poor, but 60 pages in had potential to be the best in the series. This time the opening is as strong as usual. It can't be easy to find a way to introduce Reacher plausibly into a new situation every time. The formula tends to be Reacher stumbles across a small situation in a small town and gets involved with the local law enforcement to resolve whatever the issue is (it is usually mushrooms into something massive, compared with the local environment). Child doesn't deviate much from the formula here but he brings all the elements together in an interesting way. In fact, the whole story is pretty formulaic, if you have read any of the previous stories. There is an unknown building on the outskirts of town. There is a mastermind pulling the criminal strings in the background. There is an unknown hitman, who may or may not be someone on the inside. All pretty standard stuff throughout the series.
However, for all that Child sticks to the tried and tested route he has an exceptionally natural way of telling stories that makes you want to read more. At 395 pages, in hardback, with a fairly large type face, this is the kind of book you are likely to read in a couple of sittings and it is a pleasurable read, without ever being challenging.
Thankfully Child doesn't give Reacher any crazy abilities in this one which haven't been mentioned before. Although, he is still fond of referencing the 'clock in Reacher's head' which is always accurate to the minute. In fact Reacher isn't quite the all conquering hero Child often paints him out to be. When he borrows a jacket, it's too big, a small detail but given that Child usually stresses how Reacher is the biggest, strongest etc. it was a surprise. Then later in the book when Reacher makes an absurd prediction (mirroring one of the more ridiculous points in the series), he is wrong. Of course it turns out he was only fractionally wrong but hopefully a sign that Child is starting to write more realistic stories. Although he still can't help himself when it comes to fighting. Reacher faced with 100 potential opponents in a fist fight figures the odds are decent as only a third of them are fully grown men!
As with any series which features the same principal character there is a delicate balance between filling in the back story (for the first time reader) and boring the people who already know it. Child handles this quite well. The details a frequent reader will already know are dealt with quickly and by way of Reacher giving the locals some detail on his background. So the back story comes out fairly naturally. What I liked most about this story though was that we were given additional details of Reacher's history. Not massive amounts but enough to add to what you already know. In a story this formulaic it was refreshing to get some new details. In fact Reacher's dealings with the military person performing his old role added a lot to this story and it seems fairly obvious this relationship will develop in future book(s).
The title '61 Hours' relates to the countdown which occurs throughout the book. It seems like every chapter ends with the time and XX hours to go. There is no reference to what this event will be. I found it quite irritating at the beginning but it did start to grown on me, especially when you got more details so could start to speculate on what the event was going to be. Not something I would like to see repeated but it worked quite well towards the end of the book.
Perhaps having read so many of these books makes it easier to tell where the author is going. Even allowing for that, I found it incredibly obvious who the hidden adversary was. I assumed it was made to be this obvious as Child was going to throw in a twist and I was looking forward to seeing who it would be. Sadly this was not the case. I have spoken to someone else who read this and they expressed the same disbelief at how obvious this mysterious person was.
It is only fair to point out that this is the first of two parts. This is not disclosed anywhere other than at the very end of the book when you are abruptly told that the story continues on 30 September 2010. I thought this was pretty poor. The person who gave me the book told me they had no idea until they reached that page. Given the book is on offer at around £10 (RRP £18.99) in most places you are faced with paying £20 to get the whole story if you want the new book in a timeframe where you can remember the detail of part one. For this reason I wouldn't recommend buying this book just now. You will have it finished well before the end of September. I would wait and see if you can get the two as a package.
Not a highlight in the series but a small step back in the right direction.
In Lee Childs latest book Reacher finds himself in a small town called Bolton. Why Bolton and how did he get there you may ask? Whilst drifting, Reacher manages to get a ride with a nice group of old folks on a bus heading for Mount Rushmore. He would normally take public transport but paid the driver off and thought...this will do. Mundane. But as the bus trundles on through a snowstorm it is involved in an accident on an icy bridge and they are all stuck in the small town for a couple of days. Make way! Jack Reacher is in town and the deputy sheriff is going twist the arm of the sheriff and ask for Reacher's help.
As Reacher sweeps through this little town he picks up on little details that don't seem quite right. Later to find a retired Librarian under police protection, due to stand as a witness. The towns police force is under question for what is occurring in town. The prison which supports the town and creates jobs is also hindering the town too. Some peculiar events and some deaths out the blue. He hears of a weird building five miles out of town. Things are not making sense. What are they missing. Well, Jack's back and you can bet he'll do what Jack does best and that's find the answers. After all the interstate is closed so he is stuck, bored and needs to do something to pass the time. The clock in Reachers head is ticking. Surely enough time for Jack, to solve these strange goings on?
I read 61 Hours whilst I was working away from home. Top notch read you always get from a Lee Child book. I didn't want to put it down. Lee Child writes books in such a great way I struggle to read other authors just because I prefer his style. Or maybe you get so engrossed with the life of Jack Reacher and what will he do next.
Lee Child just knows how to write and keep the reader hooked and your will want to keep turning the page. Another thing I like about this book are the chapters are not to short and not so long. You can leave the book feeling you have read enough but also if you need to put the book down its not to far to the end of the chapter. Jack Reacher thrillers are my favourites. Not much else to say. His novels never let me down and once they're finished there is a void in my life. 61 Hours ends with "To be continued" I cannot wait!! And Im sure if you read the book too you will be willing the next book to hit the shelves. Roll on the 30th of September.
The whole series is worth a read. Here is a list of books in order they where released. I recommend reading them in order but it is possible to read the books as one off's too.
Killing Floor (March 1997)
Die Trying (July 1998)
Tripwire (June 1999)
Running Blind / The Visitor (published as The Visitor in the UK and Australia) (April 2000)
Echo Burning (April 2001)
Without Fail (April 2002)
Persuader (April 2003)
The Enemy (Prequel, time frame occurs before Killing Floor) (April 2004)
One Shot (April 2005)
The Hard Way (May 2006)
Bad Luck and Trouble (April 2007)
Nothing to Lose (March 2008)
Gone Tomorrow (April 2009)
61 Hours (March 2010)
* this list was sourced from the official Lee Child website to save typing and getting the order wrong.
I have them all and my partner keeps trying to give them to a charity shop. All my others can go but not these. I long for them all and will certainly make sure I have the complete set.
As for this book like the rest, Jack Reacher is an ex-military police major, drifting from town to town, has no belongings, armed with his toothbrush, passport, bank card and cash. He is in great shape and notices things most of us wouldn't. Also has a gift with the ladies(Go Jack). Reacher tends to find himself getting dragged into other peoples problems and usually succeeds in getting to the bottom of it. Take a look at the other books too. Its worth it.
I read to make me drift into slumber. There should be a warning on Lee Child's books. This book won't make you drowsy..... possible side effects....... Insomnia ;-) lol