Book Review - 61 Hours by Lee Child
If a new Lee Child novel comes out with Jack Reacher, it's a given that most all of my free time becomes "unavailable" once I start to read. That was again the case with Child's latest, 61 Hours. I found this to be one of the most suspenseful Reacher novels, as something is counting down from 61 hours and you don't have a clue as to what it might be as the story unfolds. I just wish someone had told me up front that this is the novelistic equivalent of a TV show's season-ending cliff-hanger. I won't get to find out how it all turns out until this fall.
In 61 Hours, Reacher is on a bus headed to nowhere in particular. In the midst of a North Dakota blizzard, his bus ends up in an accident and Reacher pitches in to help try and keep the mostly elderly ridership of the bus from freezing to death before they get rescued. Once the rescue takes place and everyone is transported to a tiny town to await the arrival of the replacement bus, the local police display a major wariness over Reacher, his background, and why he was on the bus to begin with. Only after countless explanations and discussions does he gain their trust and figure out why everyone in the town is on edge. The town houses a large federal prison that houses a major drug dealer coming up for trial. The chief witness also lives in the town, and everyone is sure that her life is in danger as someone tries to keep her from testifying. To complicate matters, the local motorcycle gang that runs the drug trade from an abandoned military camp outside the city just ups and disappears overnight. Reacher is dipping into his past to try and find out the original reason for the base, but certain information seems to be deeply buried for some unknown reason. And when the cops decide to enlist his help with the escalating crisis, it's very possible that he might be the only person who can make sure the witness lives to see the trial.
61 Hours seems like more of a chess match or jigsaw puzzle than a raw action-adventure novel. Reacher is putting pieces together a few steps ahead of the locals, and he shows up at the right places at the right times to see what he needs to see. Two things stood out for me in this installment. For one, the "what happened to Jack" ending was completely unexpected while I was reading. But as the final seconds transpired and the aftermath was described, I couldn't help but wonder if Child had decided to kill off Reacher. The "To Be Continued" was a partial "wha?" and "whew" at the same time. The other very noticeable part of the novel was Child's depiction of the freezing weather and how it affected just about every scene. So very detailed and realistic... almost felt like putting on a jacket or turning the thermostat up a couple more notches. :)
61 Hours was another great episode in the Jack Reacher story, and now the only question is whether I can hold out to see what miracle he pulled off to survive the end of this book.
Obtained From: Library