Book Review - A Wanted Man by Lee Child
I like the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child... a lot. Unfortunately, the last few installments have been uneven in terms of quality. Some of the episodes advanced the Reacher character and story, while others felt more like placeholders tossed out to keep up the "book per year" pace. A Wanted Man started out in the placeholder category for me. But by the end, it had picked up sufficiently to keep me turning pages past the point where I would have turned out the light.
A Wanted Man starts out with Reacher in the middle of Nebraska at night, standing on the side of a freeway, hitchhiking his way to Virginia. After 90 minutes, he finally gets picked up by a trio who are supposedly headed to Chicago. But Reacher quickly figures out that the two guys in the car are not who they claim to be, and the woman is an unwilling passenger. He also understands that he's now an additional hostage, and the wheels start turning in his mind... who are they, what did they do, where are they going, and most of all, how can he rescue the woman and escape?
The story started out on the slow side, in my opinion. The "action" shifts back and forth between Reacher's dilemma and the crime scene involving the two men who picked him up. I know that Reacher is highly analytical, but the scene descriptions and Reacher's machinations are overly drawn out. The detail didn't make up for the lack of pace. But once Reacher makes his escape and hooks up with the authorities (on his terms, not theirs), things started to get somewhat more interesting. Reacher's attitude begins to show up, and I enjoyed the tension between what the FBI agent knew she should do with Reacher vs. what she ended up doing. The various twists were interesting, and took the story in a direction I didn't expect. Having said that, I wasn't overly thrilled with the ending, as it seemed that there were still a large number of unknowns and loose ends that weren't resolved.
I hate to say it, but the Reacher series might have hit the point of "so what"... Seventeen books in a series is a lot, and it's hard to keep the stories and plots fresh. I still like Reacher as a character, and I have no doubt I'll read the next one that Child is working on, Never Go Back. But it'll be a library book read, and I won't be overly concerned about where I'm at on the hold list.
(P.S. - Casting Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the movie version of One Shot? Really? Did the movie execs or directors ever *read* a Jack Reacher novel? Worst casting decision ever...)
Obtained From: Library