Friday, 22 May 2015

Book Review : Bad Luck and Trouble By Lee Child

Bad Luck and Trouble By Lee Child

In terms of the books that spawned them James Bond and Jason Bourne are dying on their arses.   Robert Ludlum is survived by Eric Van Lust Bader whose output is a bit patchy (I’m being kind here) and Ian Fleming’s successors have also been a bit hit and miss. But this is a subject for a later blog.

 Now onto Jack Reacher.

  For those of you who aren’t familiar Jack Reacher is an ex-military policeman who left the army some years ago and now wanders around America carrying only what he can fit in his pocket .most of the time his life is nothing to write home about but Reacher has a knack for stumbling into someone else’s problems and he won’t stop until things are put right. I find this quote from 61 Hours sums him up perfectly “I don't want to put the world to rights... I just don't like people who put the world to wrongs.”

       I always read a Jack Reacher novel when I'm on holiday, not because they’re “great literature" the reason I love them is because they’re easy to read and you have bloody good fun doing it.

In the first chapter of the  eleventh book in the series , "Bad Luck and Trouble", nameless men hover over the California desert in a Bell 222 helicopter. They lift from the floor a bound man on a stretcher, whom they’ve already tortured viciously.

Then they dump him, still alive, out of the aircraft to plunge three thousand terrifying feet to his death.

Their victim is Calvin Franz, a former military policeman who belonged to an Army special investigations unit. But bad as things got for Calvin, things will soon get much, much worse for the guys who murdered him.

You see, the M.P. unit’s motto had been, “You do not mess with the special investigators.” And this tightly knit team was led by a man you definitely don’t want to mess with: Jack Reacher.

At six-feet-five and 250 pounds, shrewdly intuitive and utterly self-sufficient, Reacher is a kind of hybrid of James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and Jack Bauer. Ten years out of the military, he’s become a drifter and loner, without address or ties, his sole concessions to society being a folding toothbrush, a passport, an ATM card, and the clothes on his back.

 Only one of the clever investigators from the old unit could possibly figure out how to contact this ghost: She leaves a deposit in his bank account in an amount that Reacher quickly deciphers as a coded message—a call for help.

The donor is Frances Neagley, the toughest woman Reacher ever knew. They meet in Los Angeles, where they learn about Calvin’s murder—and before long, about the similar grisly deaths of other members of the unit. Soon, in a sober reunion, they’re joined by the team’s last two survivors: beautiful forensic accountant Karla Dixon and tough-guy detective David O’Donnell.

“They are dead men walking, as of right now,” Reacher tells them. “You don’t throw my friends out of helicopters and live to tell the tale.”

The colorful quartet stoically masks its deep bonds of affection with plenty of playful insults and dry, understated wit. One of the funniest scenes occurs when they return to their motel to find their rooms ransacked and their property trashed. Reacher’s terse, one-word response is hilarious. You know he won’t stop until justice is delivered.

But—delivered to whom? In keeping with previous thrillers in the series, Child weaves a devious mystery throughout a tapestry of unrelenting action. Why were the special investigators targeted? Was it  blowback from some case in the distant past? Or did one of the victims stumble upon something ugly and unwittingly draw the others in? The clues to be cracked include obscure numerical patterns—fodder for the deductive talents of maths-freak Reacher—and the baffling password to a murder victim’s computer.

The plot ultimately sends the reader on a collision course with today’s most chilling news headlines. And for the white-knuckle finale, which pits the indomitable Reacher and his comrades against the bad guys in the inevitable violent confrontation, Child delivers the perfect resolution.

 The formula of the Reacher books is by now familiar. However, familiarity does not have to be a negative. Bad Luck and Trouble is a showcase of what lee child does best, leading us and his protagonists up blind alleys, down dead ends, until answers begin to come and the real truth emerges. The vile and psychotic villains get their comeuppance (no surprise) but the ride is hectic and the climactic scenes suck the breath out of you.

In a way I suppose Reacher is a bit like  James Bond , he is  admired by his male fans and lusted after by the females ( and maybe  a few blokes as well) , but whatever sex you are you’ll find yourself rooting for him.

 I reckon this book will be perfect source material for a movie when they make it and word is it’s being lined up to be the third Jack Reacher film and I for one will be first in line to see it when it gets made .

I love this book. In short Bad Luck and Trouble is one of the best thrillers ever written.

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