3 April 2010

Review: THE HARD WAY, Lee Child

A review that was originally published elsewhere

Random House Australia, April 2006

Jack Reacher is a maverick. He is a gun-for-hire, with the remorse gene missing, ex-military, photographic memory, and an incredible ability to tell time without a watch. Late one night as he sits in a New York cafe drinking coffee from a foam cup, ready to move at a moment's notice, he sees a man unlock a car, get in, and drive away. The next night Jack is back in the same cafe at the same time when a man approaches him and asks what he saw the previous night. Jack is able to describe the car, its number plate, make and colour.

Edward Lane, on the other hand, is a wealthy man running an illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. His wife has been kidnapped and he engages Jack to find her. Jack's hackles rise when he learns that this is the second time Lane has lost a wife this way.

This is the tenth title in the Jack Reacher series, but the first I've read. If the other titles are like this one, then I'm sure his readers have been waiting for THE HARD WAY with great anticipation. If this is your first acquaintance with Jack Reacher, no matter. THE HARD WAY seems to work well as a stand-alone. I wasn't aware of missing knowledge from earlier books. In fact, Lee Child says that he deliberately writes his books so that it doesn't matter where you start, although on his website at http://www.leechild.com he does give two 'recommended' reading orders.

Those who have read other books in the series will be waiting to to find out whether this book is written in the first or third person. I'm not going to spoil the suspense by revealing it here. It is interesting that Lee Child has chosen to write the Jack Reacher books from two different angles. From the website: "Lee says writing in first person is more natural for him. But writing in third person gives him more freedom when building suspense. With third person narrative, the suspense builds easily as the reader can essentially see around corners and anticipate events about which Reacher has no knowledge. With the first person narrative, the reader can only know what Reacher knows."

Lee Child is British, but after he was made redundant from his job in television, he moved with his family from Cumbria to the United States to start a new career as a writer of American thrillers. He now divides his time between France and New York. Lee is published in 43 countries and 29 languages worldwide.

I enjoyed THE HARD WAY immensely. This is an exciting read, essentially a thriller, but with enough little puzzles and red herrings to interest the mystery reader as well. There were times that I really couldn't see the path the story would take next. Jack Reacher is resourceful, inventive and never afraid of starting from the beginning, of doing things the hard way. The tension builds all the time and the reader really arrives breathless in the final pages.

My rating: 4.7

Lee Child's site

Lee Child in Australia and New Zealand April 2010


April 6, 2010
6:30 PM
The Wheeler Centre and Readings
176 Little Lonsdale Street
To book: www.wheelercentre.com

April 7, 2010
6:30 PM
Mt. Barker Community Library
5 Dumas Street
Mt Barker
Hosted by Dymocks Rundle Mall, Adelaide
To book: +61 8 8223 5380 or email: adelaide.orders@dymocks.com.au

April 8, 2010

12:30 PM
Dymocks Sydney Literary Lunch
Four Seasons Hotel
199 George Street
To book: +61 2 9449 4366

6:30 PM
Camden Library
Camden Civic Centre
Oxley Street
To book: +61 2 4654 7951

April 9, 2010
6:30 PM
Irish Club
175 Elizabeth Street
Hosted by Dymocks Brisbane City
To book: +61 7 3886 5704


April 11, 2010
7:00 PM
Rosmini College Auditorium
36 Dominion Street
Tickets $15 from www.eventfinder.co.nz or at door

Informal Auckland-area drop-in signings:
11am-12 noon: The Warehouse, Albany
1pm-2pm: The Warehouse, Westgate
2.30pm-3.30pm: The Warehouse, Sylvia Park

April 11, 2010

Formal evening signing TBD

Informal Auckland-area drop-in signing:
1-1.30pm: Dymocks, Broadway, Newmarket

April 13, 2010
6:00 PM
Duxton Hotel
Tickets $20 (includes glass of wine) phone 0800 50 50 90

Informal Auckland-area drop-in signings:
12.00-12.30pm: Borders, Queen St
1.00-1.30pm: Whitcoulls Corner, Queen St

April 14
6:00 PM
The Boathouse
Tickets $5 from Page & Blackmore booksellers

Informal Wellington-area drop-in signings:
12 noon-12.30pm: Whitcoulls, Lambton Quay
1pm-1.30pm: Borders, Lambton Quay

April 15
7:00 PM
James Hay Theatre
Christchurch Town Hall
Tickets $15 from Ticketek on sale from 24 March

Informal Christchurch-area drop-in signings:
11.30am-12 noon: Borders, Riccarton Mall
12.00pm-12.30pm: Paper Plus, Riccarton Mall
1pm-1.45pm: Whitcoulls, 111 Cashel St

April 16
6:30 PM
Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Tickets $40 single; $70 double (includes wine-tasting and nibbles) from Paper Plus, George St

Informal Dunedin-area drop-in signings:
12 noon: Whitcoulls, 143 George St
1pm: Paper Plus, 251 George St

Review first published on Murder and Mayhem April 2006.


Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review, as always. I do wonder what Child will do with his Reacher character after 61 Hours.

Dorte H said...

Interesting that he switches between a first and a third person narrator! I tend to prefer third-person narrators, past tense, but I can see that in flash fiction the first-person narrator is extremely useful for creating suspense, and you can play with unreliable narrators which is fun!


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