The Hard Way is the 10th book in the Jack Reacher series.
The Hard Way is another of my favourite of the series of books from Lee Child. This one is a bit of a slow starter, which is very different to the other books, but once it get's going it is brilliant.
The story starts with Reacher in a cafe for the second night running, (which is unusual for him) drinking espresso. Another man is talking to the waiter and he points to Reacher, so the man comes and sits at his table, and before he even opens his mouth Reacher says something along the lines of yes you can ask me questions about last night as I am in a good mood.
The story basically unfolds that a wealthy business man has paid a huge ransom amount as his wife and daughter have been kidnapped. However the kidnappers have not been in touch since the money was dropped. It's now Reacher's job to uncover just what has happened and where the ladies are before it's too late, as the man who is paying the kidnappers has some secrets of his own.
The ending of this book is really spectacular, Lee Child has outdone himself. The amount of action in this one is great, after the last one, which I found a bit more technical and not as fast paced.
One of my favourite ever Reacher moments is in this book. It's where Reacher is lying on a doorstep pretending to be a sleeping tramp, and a youth spots that he is clearly not a tramp (apparently you can tell by the shoes) and tries to take Reacher's money. How Lee Child writes this part of the book is brilliant, and what happens is so quick, and a bit funny. It's only about a paragraph, but I really loved it.
Lee Child really has excelled with this book.
When you watch a film with a person from the UK using an American accent you often find that they do a decent job. No doubt this because we are bombarded with American media and are able to get an ear for it. The same if not often true for American's impersonating the Brits. Too many times they fall on cliché and span the globe from Swindon to Sydney and back. It may be that we notice the anomalies because we are British and that the Americans can also easily tell our fake US accents? The idea of Brits impersonating Americans is also seen in other media. Lee Child is an Englishman who moved to America and quickly began to write US based thrillers as if he was a local. He manages to pull it off with some style, but has he forgotten his roots? With 'The Hard Way' Child's main protagonist Jack Reacher visits England, can Child still write it like he used to?
Having a cup of coffee should be a risk free enterprise, even for a man like Jack Reacher who is always able to find trouble. After breaking his own rule and visiting the same coffee house twice in a row Reacher does find trouble when he sees a mysterious man enter a car. Before he knows it Reacher finds himself the lead witness in a kidnapping case and is hired by the distraught husband to find his wife and child. With his Military Police credentials to fall back on, Reacher begins to think that not everything is as it should be with the kidnappers or the rich victim. Who is the mysterious man with no tongue and what does the husband do for a living that allows him to have so much ready cash and so many enemies?
The Reacher books have over the years become a set of guilty pleasures for me. As a rule they are OTT, silly, action packed, violent and fast paced. Thankfully, 'The Hard Way' is no exception and is in the typical Lee Child style. One of the first things that a reader must get over when reading a Reacher novel is the way that he is sometimes forced into a story. Here he happens to be in a Coffee Shop at the wrong time. This is a very hammy way of getting a character involved in a case, but I can let Child off as it's over quickly so that the full story can begin ASAP.
When the actual story does start, it is a doozy. There are lots of twists and turns that make it great fun. The inability to know who the real bad guy is makes it extra fun as you cannot tell if the kidnappers or the victim are to blame. The story works by slicing in clues to the past of the shady group Reacher is working for. The group represents mercenaries throughout the world and have been linked to some atrocities globally. Even though there is no proof linking them, there is enough evidence to make them a lot of enemies and perhaps not as white as you initially thought. Child is a master at creating dark characters that you loathe. One person in this book is so repugnant that is his death could not come early enough for me.
Like with all the Reacher novels the character of Reacher himself is a big element that makes them fun. Reacher is a nomad who left the army at the top of his game and is living off the grid. Charismatic, principled, strong and brave - Reacher is a clichéd character that you have to like. Here he is in usual high form falling for a woman and getting in too deep with the bad guys. The scene towards the end is classic Reacher as he comes to an impasse and must make the right decisions fast.
If you like your books easy to read, but hard with action, then 'The Hard Way' could be for you. The book has a simple storyline, but it is jam packed with some excellent action sequences and characters rich with ambiguity. Towards the end of the book Child takes the characters to England, here he revels in using clichés that gently poke the island he left behind. If you take this with a pinch of salt you are likely to like the rest of the book as well. There are not many authors as good as Lee Child when it comes to writing fun action thrillers.
Author: Lee Child
Price: amazon uk - £4.83
play.com - £5.99
'The Hard Way' fits well into Lee Child's writing style. It is classic Jack Reacher, although I only know this with hindsight...It happened to be the first Child novel I read, and it was a true page turner...
I am interested in American culture, both present and past, and this book conveys both perfectly. It is surprisingly well written, and the plot is well motivated as are the characters. I have now read three 'Jack Reacher' books written by Child and I think that his character development (our of the army, into nomadic crime fighter) is genuinely interesting and reminiscent of Jack Bauer in 24. (In fact, if you like this style of story telling you are bound to enjoy 'The Hard Way.'
I won't get tied up now into plot structure and the like, but suffice to say that I have been very impressed by how easily Lee Child's novels are to pick up, and I would suggest you pick up any one of them. Like me, you won't regret it and are sure to go back and buy another once you've finished.
I always believe you can't judge an author on just one book. Recently, I read Lee Child's 'One Shot', which I enjoyed. So I was keen to try a second one by this author to confirm or alter my opinion of his work.
About the author:
Lee Child was born in Coventry in 1954. He had a successful career at Grenada Television for many years before redundancy led him to a new and successful life for him and his family in America. He has now written 11 thrillers with the same charismatic hero in Jack Reacher.
About the book:
Jack Reacher is sitting outside a Coffee Shop in New York, when he notices a man cross the street and get into a Mercedes parked opposite him. He thinks nothing of this seemingly normal event. Until the following evening while in the same shop a stranger is more than interested in his observations.
Very soon he is asked to help the wealthy but somewhat shady Edward Lane recovery his kidnapped second wife Kate and her daughter Jade. As he unknowingly witnessed the first ransom for their return that previous evening and his military knowledge is required.
Reacher's investigations discover Lane's first wife Ann was also kidnapped but killed as the deal went wrong. And Ann's sister five years later still insists that Lane killed her as their marriage was on the rocks and he wouldn't allow to divorce him.
Jack must find the truth before Lane's second wife and daughter are also killed. Find the kidnappers and solve the mysteries from the past. Not much to ask really of this superhero!!
My thoughts on this book:
Firstly I must say this is an enjoyable book. I found the author's style of writing easy to follow, descriptive and the book flowed. I think having already read a book involving Jack Reacher I knew what to expect and I had more of an affinity with him and an understanding of his history and his character.
The plot to the book was very well thought out and due to the author's excellent writing and use of suspense you were never really sure what was going to happen next to Jack and what twists and turns would need unravelling. In this book our star appears more fallible and human as he makes wrong moves and assumptions; this makes him more endearing and one of us.
That said in my view it is predictable and if you have read one of these books before you will know exactly what you are getting. It's action all the way with Jack and he seems as ever to have more lives that a cat. Which after a while I find a bit dull, you just know whatever the situation he will find a way out of it.
Jack is a very likeable lead character, he is dynamic, athletic and has a very logical mind. All these things help him to be a very good and multi dimentional character. And as always he is up against for most an impossible situation that only he can solve.
A criticism I had about the previous book I read was the length of the chapters. However I am glad to say in this one they were nice and short. Allowing the reader to pick up the book at anytime during the day and read a few chapters without feeling in the middle of something and not being able to leave the book.
For me the book's ending was quite obvious and as such 50 pages from the end I felt I knew what would happen, as I think all Reacher novels finish the same way. I did have to read it though to confirm this was the case. As you can guess your star is going to solve the case and not get killed but kill or bring to justice all the bad guys. I suppose that is obvious.
A feature I liked was at the end of the book there was a kind of short epilogue, even if it wasn't called that, which allowed you to see what had happened to all the books main characters. I would have liked a little more depth to this however.
A further good touch was at the end of the book. There is a half page slot on each of Lee Child's other books with a brief description of what the book is about. I think for fans of the author this is a very clever ploy to make you buy another one of his books.
Overall I think this book was well written and I enjoyed it when the story shifted to Britain as the characters tried to fit into British life and talked more about things and places I could relate to.
A very enjoyable if slightly predictable read. I would recommend this author to anyone who has not tried him who likes action thrillers. As I think if you have read one of Lee's books you either love or hate the Jack Reacher's character.
For me I think I will not try another Lee Child novel for quite some time. As I feel I understand his style and know now what to expect from any one of his books.
There are so many good authors' out there still waiting to be read. I will try a different one next time.
Thanks for reading my review.
@CPTDANIELS December 2008
Published by Bantam books 2006
Amazon price: £5.59 (Paperback)
This review has also be written on Ciao by me.
Lee Child is an ex-pat. Traitor! Originally from Coventry he moved his family from their home in Cumbria and relocated across the pond in New York having lost his job in television where he has since become the author of twelve novels - each of them featuring the indomitable Jack Reacher.
In this, his 10th book, Reacher, the ex-military policeman, witnesses a transaction involving the handing over of a million dollars and, as a consequence, is hired by Edward Lane, director of a private miltary company, whose wife and stepchild have been kidnapped. As he searches for any clues as to the whereabouts of the two abductees he learns that the director is keeping a few secrets of his own and is not everything he is cracked up to be. He is aided in his search by a beautiful ex-FBI investigator turned private detective and together they attempt to uncover the truth. Their search leads them across the Atlantic to the quiet, sleepy English countryside where the only dead bodies are usually those left lying in the road.
So, who is Jack Reacher? He is the man all men wish to be! Over six foot tall, built like the preverbial sh*t-house, blue eyes, fair haired loner wandering from town to town, stumbling across murder, mystery and females wherever he goes. He is also the man all women want their men to be! Over six foot tall, strong as an ox, deep blue windows to the soul, fair-haired with a touch of mystery and a smoking gun.
The stories are fast-paced, witty and definately aimed at the '24' generation of men who often dream of themselves as Jack Bauer - the man who, deep on many levels, is all 'it' with the ladies and also has the ability to snap the neck of some marauding terrorist at twenty paces. The book is written in the third person but some of the previous titles featuring the dashing hero have been penned in the first person (which I prefer). 'The Hard Way' is not one of his better books for me but does continue the Reacher tales with enough violence to keep the pages turning.
Every one of Lee Child's stories are very good escapist fun with enough wise-cracks and dead bodies to keep even the hardest to please gentleman happily occupied while the soaps are on for these are definately aimed at a male audience.
It is available in used condition from 0.01p on Amazon which is a great price for an author who does not write a bad book - only better ones.
This review is also on Ciao.