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Before reading a book, I usually have a quick flick at least to see how long the first chapter is. Not for any particular reason, but just for a subconscious comparison to the previous book I'll have read at the time. So imagine my surprise when I found this this book gets to a staggering 61 pages before the second chapter kicks in, and it seems to be nothing but intense description about the events of a shooting in Indiana, where one man goes on a mission to kill 6 seemingly innocent commuters in precision fashion before returning home, getting arrested and saying nothing but asking for Jack Reacher.
But it's an intro that works. It's been a while since I've read a Lee Child book, and this is the 9th Jack Reacher book he has written. I think I've read maybe 3 previous books featuring the ex-Army policeman whose more like a cross between Rambo and Chuck Norris with a bit of Andre the Giant seemingly thrown in. Think Johnny Bravo shape with a buzz cut and 6 foot 5 and you've got him. In fact, there's nothing Reacher can't do. Years as a military policeman has taught his brain to not only be tactically quicker and better than everyone else's, but also physically he's a virtually perfect specimen.
This all helps him as he finds himself stumbling into a mystery where the one man who shouldn't be asking for him has used his name as the only thing he has said. Confused, Reacher explores the case and soon finds that all is not quite as it seems. As the book gathers pace, slowly after the first opening chapter, the characters become more defined and rather predictable, and it reminded me of the previous Reacher books I had read. There's nothing majorly different, to be honest, and you get the feeling that Lee Child knows this and plays on it, determined to create in Reacher an everyman hero whose passion for doing the right thing will either have you feeling completely justified or being sick.
And it kind of works. The characters develop well, the intricate elements of the case and its evidence, the police enquiry and the villains when they come along is all very well done, and the smooth transition from scene to scene makes it hard to put the book down. Ultimately, this is what I'd want in a bog standard crime thriller novel, and this is what I got and more. It's classier than the usual crime thriller while still posturing perfectly for a beach read. There's nothing too complex, there's a mystery with a twist that you're almost invited to try and work out, and there's enough of the physical action to keep the pace of your reading hurtling along without needing to worry about whether you're going to get bogged down in too much info - it won't happen.
Child has the balance just right - there's more detail than a James Patterson novel, less complicated and specific than the earlier John Grishams, and has the pace that makes you want to continue reading just like a Harlan Coben or Michael Connelly book would. For this reason, I'm happy to recommend it. There's nothing too far fetched, the villains, heroes and all other characters are completely believable, and the pace is just about right. This is no literary work of genius by any means, but it works perfectly for what it is and I really enjoyed reading it. The Reacher books are rather similar in terms of how they play out, so this would be the only real negative, but otherwise, if you're new to him, this is just as good a starting point as any, and I'll happily read some more Reacher books when I come across them.
One Shot is the 9th in the Jack Reacher series of books.
One shot starts by telling the story of a gunman, he has everything precise he goes to a spot in a car park, aims his gun, shoots some people then leaves. The main suspect is a man names James Barr, the police arrest him at 3 in the morning when he is asleep in bed and they start questioning him. He utters one sentence, Get Jack Reacher for me, and until Reacher turns up he doesn't say another word.
The story of One Shot is another great from Lee Child it doesn't have as much action in it as the others but we again learn a bit more about Reachers past, and how he deals with certain situations. The man who calls for his help is claiming one thing but should Reacher believe him as the man has a past of his own that Reacher knows all about.
The interactions of the Reacher and the other main character of this book are really interesting in this book, and once again Reacher ends up helping everybody out and figuring out exactly what has gone on.
Another great effort from Lee Child but I missed the action in this one. The precision and technical detail of the story line is phenomenal though.
A friend at work knows how much I enjoy reading, so he suggested I give a Lee Child thriller a go, so I finally (10 months later!!) did. I found this novel in my library along with several others from this author.
About the Author:
Lee Child was born in Coventry in 1954. He worked for 18 years at Granada TV, before being made redundant. He took this opportunity to move to America and begin a very successful career writing thrillers. His first book was 'Killing Floor' and since then he has written 10 more. All his books so far have featured Jack Reacher as an amateur detective.
Outline of the book:
The rapidly growing City of Indiana is rocked by what appears to be a random killing spree in the Plaza as people are coming out of their offices on a Friday night. The gunman kills five people in seconds with just six shots.
However within hours the Police have arrested and put into custody an ex-army man James Barr for this random act of terror. In his interview all he will say is that they have the wrong man and to get Jack Reacher. This baffles the Police but they decide to set about finding this elusive man anyway.
Reacher though and unknown to the Police investigated Barr 14 years before. For a similar random act while on Duty in Kuwait City, which he managed to get away with as the Army hushed it all up. So why would he ask for the ex-investigating officer from this event all those years before as it would surely incriminate him further?
Jack sets to work with his defence lawyer Helen Rodin and his devoted sister Rosemary Barr to try and piece together the truth and what happened in the face of huge Prosecution evidence.
He must find the answers before he is next to die, as his presence in the city seems to be ruffling some people's feathers.
My thoughts on the book:
I found this book a very enjoyable read. It was longer than I was used to and initially I found it quite difficult to get into to. But once I did, it was full of great creative writing and a well-researched plot.
I tend to find American authors difficult to come to terms with. I think this is down to my inexperience and knowledge of American culture. For example in this book where Jack Reacher will make reference to old and famous Baseball Players, I find this hard to understand or relate to. But I should really have no complaints as I found out after finishing the book his is an English author living in America!
The book is extremely well written. The author manages to link all the possible cues together in a logical and very clever way. Leaving an exciting end to the book that leaves you griped to the final pages. All the time you want to know why this happened, why the man called Reacher and if he can capture the man responsible.
The books hero Jack Reacher I did not immediately like and found difficult to relate to him. As he is a man who dropped out of American society and at the same time a man who is also irresistible to women. Not someone I can easily relate too!! But in truth he grew on me as his investigatory skills were brought more to fore as the book continued.
The novel was a classic try and find the obscure clues to piece together why this happened and then from there is needed the mind of a professional soldier to get into the mind of the killer.
I liked the air of mystery about the books leading character, the way he floater from place to place. He certainly was a very clever man who did not enjoy being constrained by society or authority and in many ways this in an endearing quality. Although this can develop into arrogance which is not so attractive.
I found I liked the author's style of writing easy to understand and interesting without ever requiring too much thought on my behalf. It was a very thought out story but one that I always felt would be solved quickly by Jack Reacher.
The chapters of the book I found a little long at 35 pages a time. But the author is very good at writing punchy paragraphs alternating between the various characters in the book so you know exactly what is happening to all the key players.
Also a nice touch or a clever ploy depending on how you see it. The author thanks you for reading his book, hoping you have enjoyed it and he introduces you to his next book with the first chapter. I took the positive as it makes me now want to read his next book, as it sounds really interesting.
I thought this was a very good well thought out and well written book. I would recommend Lee Child as a very intelligent and thought provoking thriller writer.
I certainly will try and read another of his books, but my first impressions are favourable.
The book has 495 pages.
It is published by Bantam Books March 2006
On sale at Amazon for £5.59
More details about the author
Go to: www.jackreacher.co.uk
This review was also published under my name on Ciao.
@CPTDaniels January 2009
The Mounties are known for always getting there man, but there is an equally known saying of the one that got away. So which is it to be? Getting away with it? Or inevitably getting caught? Having read some books in Lee Childs Reacher series already I assume that Reacher exists in the catching his man mould. However, Reacher is more likely to catch his man, pummel him, handcuff him to a moving car, and scarper into the night. Reacher returns to confront an old case from his army days of the one that did get away but not forever
Jack Reacher is back again and this time the dangerous loner must investigate the sniper killing of 5 innocent people. It seems that the man who did it should have been jailed years earlier, but Reacher was unable to get the evidence together. However, things are not always as they seem and even as the police stop investigating believing they have a slam dunk, Reacher starts to wonder if there is sometimes too much evidence.
This is the third Reacher novel that I have read and is by far the corniest. Thats not to say it is bad, just that it is the type of cheesy thriller that I love to read every now and again. The problem with the book is that its more jam packed with testosterone than a Rugby Union international match. The characters are mostly men who are known by their surnames and like to shoot people. The likes of Jack Higgins have been writing this type of boys own adventure for men for years and Child is a fantastic new author in the field.
The reason that this cheesy fiction works is the great writing style of Child and the character of Reacher. Reacher is someone that could be seen as arrogant and aloof, but he is developed in such a way that you have to support him. He is uncompromising, violent and often breaks the law, but his straight sense of right and wrong makes him a spectacular anti-hero. By One Shot Reacher is almost acting as a one man A-Team as he roams the USA looking to solve problems for former colleagues.
Childs overall writing should be praised as he is able to create a fast paced and exciting story that rushes from point A all the way to a bloody Z. Too many times an action thriller or crime novel will lose its way in the last third as the author finds it difficult to wrap up the storyline. Child does not have this issue in One Shot as he is able to create a coherent and exciting mystery throughout. The book is only made better by the uncompromising and stunning final section that has you once more rooting for the ruthless Reacher.
A book that centres on a hero character can often fail if their nemesis is not up to much. One Shot is able to introduce a bad guy that will have you turning the pages to discover the truth. The selection of shady characters that use others to cover their tracks works well as although Child makes them ruthless you can not help thinking that there is a chance that they could exist in real life. For all the trips into fantasy that this book makes Child assures that it keeps at least one foot in reality by giving all the characters enough depth so that they are shades of grey, rather than pure black and white.
I do believe that some people will read this book and find it far too simple and write it off as pure hokum and to a large extent they are right. This book is hokum, just hokum of the highest order. You can not help but smile as you read about how Reacher bends the rules to get what he wants. The fact that there is a very solid and exciting storyline throughout is a huge bonus and proves that although Childs chosen genre is often frowned upon he is certainly one of the better authors in it. I recommend this to anyone, especially men, who are looking for a fun action read to take on holiday.
Author: Lee Child
Price: amazon uk - £5.59
play.com - £4.99
The peace and quiet of the downtown of an Indiana town is shattered by the sound of six shots, five of which find the heads of their victims with unerring accuracy whilst a sixth comes to rest at the bottom of an ornamental fountain. Within minutes the sniper and his rifle are safely making their escape whilst in the street chaos has broken out and the air is punctured by the screams of those still able to scream and the distant sound of police sirens that are only beaten to the scene only by the camera crews housed in a nearby building.
Usually the randomness of such crimes makes detection a tough process however the amount of forensic evidence left at the scene means that within 24 hours the police have their suspect in jail with enough evidence to guarantee a conviction so when 48 hours later the accused James Barr is left in a coma following an attack in prison there is little concern for his recovery. Under arrest he only words he uttered were Get Reacher for me, the thing is Reacher is already on his way to Indiana.
I did debate whether I was best placed to review this book, it must be the sixth or seventh Jack Reacher novel that I have read by now and to be honest Im beginning to grow tired of the format and to be fair that means I may not actually do the book justice. Basically this is a pretty good crime thriller with a fast paced storyline and is written n an even well judged style. The problem is that after reading a number of these novels for me the initial shine has gone from them and I now find them a little predictable and the character of Jack Reacher has fundamentally stagnated and almost become too much of a superman persona.
Reacher is a former US military cop. A hard man who can handle himself. The sort of bloke that you want as a friend and not an enemy. After leaving the army following a downsizing period he has become a drifter unable to settle in any one place or form attachments with people that last. Instead he spends his days hitching from one place to another across the US living off his army severance pay and doing odd jobs, a sort of modern day character from the Good the Bad and the Ugly. As if to emphasize the lack of permanence in his life he only ever pays for motels one night at a time and only ever owns one set of clothes at any one time. The problem is that rather just being a character from a spaghetti western over time he has morphed into some sort of vigilante with the combined powers of Rambo, Terminator and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon mode (rather than a drunk uttering anti Jewish comments).
It is this development of a seemingly untouchable one man vigilante that has made the past couple of books I have read rather predictable and lacking in suspense, there is an inevitability about the ending that fails to grab my attention and I find myself reading through at a fast pace just to get to that inevitable end rather than the story pulling me along at a fast pace full of wonder at where the plot will take me.
That does beg the question of why do I continue to read these books and in part the answer can be found in the strength of the earlier work where Reacher came across as a lot more vulnerable and flawed. In fact taken in isolation this is not a bad read, it is by no means a classic but if you like a bit of macho posturing where the bad guys take a pounding then this is a worthwhile book and ideal for long haul flights or time on the beach. The storyline is fast paced and well constructed and you are fed just enough of how Reachers mind is working as he attempts to unravel the circumstances surrounding the multiple shooting and begin to pick apart the evidence of what appeared at first to be a slam dunk case for the prosecution.
The style of writing in One Shot is easy on the eye and the fact that the paperback stretches to 510 pages has more to do with the large print used than the depth of the content. Author Lee Child keeps his descriptive passages to a minimum and the prose quite basic and uncomplicated. Child himself is a British born writer based in the United States and all of his eight previous books have featured Reacher as the main character.
Published by Bantam books the rrp is £6.99 and the book is available on Amazon for £5.59 new and from as little as a penny in the new and used section. At that price you cannot go wrong as all you are paying is the postage.
For those who need it the ISBN is 0-553-81586-5.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
Lee Child's Jack Reacher thrillers always have remarkably inventive setups, and One Shot is true to form. A sniper, Barr, kills five people with six shots and leaves a clear trail of evidence; arrested, he asks for Reacher. When Reacher was a military policeman, politics stopped him pursuing Barr--he cannot understand why Barr would ask for him and Barr has been beaten in jail until he cannot remember himself. Yet, for Reacher, the loner who looks at things differently from civilians, the story does not add up--Barr should not have got himself caught, should not even have fired from where he did.