22 August 2009

Review: GONE TOMORROW, Lee Child

Bantam Press, 2009, ISBN 9780593057049, 441 pages

Jack Reacher thinks he knows a suicide bomber when he sees one.Twenty years ago he learnt a list of behavioural indicators from an Israeli army captain. It is a set of twelve bullet points for male suspects, and eleven for women. Riding the New York City subway at two o'clock in the morning he reckons he is looking at one - a female suicide bomber, that is. He's worked his way through the bulleted list and she fits. And then the woman realises that he has spotted her.

For thirteen years Jack Reacher was a military policeman in the US Army, saw service all over the world, and finally reached the rank of Major. He was highly decorated but that didn't help when the army downsized. He's never lost his ability to put two and two together, and so in the police interviews that follow the subway incident, he smells a rat or two, especially when the interviewers ask him about a name he recognises. John Sansom is an Army veteran, and a highly decorated hero, aiming at election as a Senator, but Jack can't work out what he got his decorations for. It's a puzzle Jack wants to solve.

There is something uncomfortable and patriotically close to the bone about the central theme of this novel. I feel that Lee Child wears his political beliefs on his sleeve, and is writing for an audience only too sensitive about suicide bombers and the aftermath of 9/11.

Reacher talking about a photo he sees in a book that Sansom has written:
    That photograph that was different was a news picture I had seen before. It was of an American politician called Donald Rumsfeld, in Baghdad, shaking hands with Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, back in 1983. Donlad Rumsfeld had twice been Secretary of Defense, but at the time had been a special presidential envoy for Ronald Reagan. He had gone to Baghdad to kiss Saddam's ass and pat him on the back and hive him a pair of solid gold spurs as a gift and a symbol of America's everlasting gratitude. Eight years later we had been kicking Saddam's ass, not kissing it. Fifteen years after that, we killed him. Sansom had captioned the picture Sometimes our friends become our enemies, and sometimes our enemies become our friends.
GONE TOMORROW is a thriller, a mystery, and at times the violence feels very raw. The plot becomes extremely complex and it feels at times as if there is a lot of technical detail in particular.
GONE TOMORROW is #13 in the Jack Reacher series, but I don't think you need worry if you have never read any before. GONE TOMORROW will work well as a stand-alone.

My rating: 4.1

Other reviews:
I've only read one other Jack Reacher novel recently and I enjoyed that one much more than I did GONE TOMORROW.

THE HARD WAY, my rating: 4.7
Jack Reacher is a maverick. A gun-for-hire, with the remorse gene missing, ex-military, photographic memory, and an incredible ability to tell the 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 and a man approaches him and asks what he saw the previous night. And 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.


Jim's Words Music and Science said...


This (and the immediately prior) Reacher novels didn't work for me. The violence was over the top and the plot was thin, IMHO. My rating would be 2 out of 5. I liked the series when it started out- just the last two have felt inferior.

Best wishes!

Dorte H said...

I think readers´ opinion on Lee Child vary quiet a lot. Well, as long as I have other names on my wish list, there is no need to rush into things.

Luanne said...

I liked this one but the last one -Gone Tomorrow was a bit of a miss for me. Interesting to see the Aussie cover!

Kerrie said...

I have 2 others (in between these two)on my shelves yet to read. I find the difference in rating that I gave between GONE TOMORROW and THE HARD WAY interesting. I'll eventually get around to the other two. I suspect it may be very popular with a particular group of US readers but I am not sure if I am game to pinpoint them

Maxine Clarke said...

Aargh! Blogger ate comment again and forgot to copy.
Just to note, I reviewed this recently at Euro Crime

Good review, Kerrie, partic the terrorism-military sensitivities.

My favourite Reacher book is the first, Killing Floor, but they are much of a muchness. There are some recurring characters (even girlfriends) in the first few novels but buy now each one features a pretty much new cast each time (apart from Reacher) - no doubt so that people can start anew or at any point in the series without too much catching up necessary.

They are all along the same formula, some better than others, but bascially, you know what you are going to get each time.

Maxine Clarke said...

PS I seem to recall that one of them is written from a woman's POV...but even so, not much different to the rest!

Kerrie said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. One thing I ddn't memntion in the review is that Lee Child is a British writer (but apparently lived for a while in the US) very much trying to appeal to the US market (I think) and writing in a US world.


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