November 6

Make Me / Wolves in the Dark (Audiobook)

Make Me

Lee Child is now one of the few authors that I read and re-read and then read all over again.  I think I have read Killing Floor well over a dozen times down the years.  Somehow I missed reading Make Me when it first released so my Audible credits were flexed to give me some listening pleasure. And what pleasure it was. 

The mystery at the heart of Make Me runs right to the final scenes and even if you had given me 100 guesses I would never have puzzled this one out – totally gripping and more than a little disturbing.  But definitely one of the better novels in the series – I really enjoyed this one.

Child is happy to let Reacher age and in Make Me there were signs that his is slowing down and becoming a bit more vulnerable…extra drama!

The audiobook was very well presented.  Narration by Jeff Harding who nailed Reacher but some of the other character voices were a bit too similar over the course of the whole book. A minor niggle and it took nothing away from my overall enjoyment.

 

Wolves in the Dark

Varg Veum returns in this dark, dark tale from Gunnar Staalesen.  Veum is in a dangerous position – charged with an horrific offence and the evidence against him is damning.  The biggest problem with Varg will face is…himself.  He had gone through a period of self oblivion, drinking heavily and hardly functioning from day to day. 

Now facing the very real prospect of a lengthy prison sentence Veum must do whatever it takes to shake off his clouded memories and discover who he may have upset that may have tried to plant evidence against him.  But what it Veum DID do the crimes which he was accused of?

His personal trauma, self doubt and the trust he needs others to have in him are brilliantly conveyed by Gunnar Staalesen – a magnificent storyteller and in top, top form here.  Wolves in the Dark is hard to “enjoy” as the topics covered are distressing at times – but this is a powerful book and I loved listening to it.

Narrated by Colin Mace, the gruff tones of Varg Veum were pitched perfectly and captured how I had imagined he would sound.

 

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November 19

Night School – Lee Child

night-schoolIn the morning, they gave Reacher a medal. And in the afternoon, they sent him back to school.

It’s just a voice plucked from the air: ‘The American wants a hundred million dollars’.

For what? Who from? It’s 1996, and the Soviets are long gone. But now there’s a new enemy. In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly-dressed young Saudis are planning something big.

Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission and a big win. The Army pats him on the back and gives him a medal. And then they send him back to school. It’s a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Their assignment? To find that American. And what he’s selling. And to whom. There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad.

Night School takes Reacher back to his army days, but this time he’s not in uniform. With trusted sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders, in a wired, fiendishly clever new adventure that will make the cold sweat trickle down your spine.

 

My thanks to Patsy Irwin of Transworld for my review copy.
When we first met Jack Reacher in Killing Floor (20 books ago) he had served his country, left the army and was starting his nomadic lifestyle. As it became clear  that Reacher was a highly decorated officer, readers realised that they had missed many of his early adventures and had not had the chance to learn what made Reacher into the man he was. The Enemy was the first book to jump back to Reacher’s army days and now Night School is giving  another welcome return to “retro Reacher”

Plucked from his normal duties he is being sent to school to learn how the army can co-operate better with other agencies. Reacher is not happy, he has just been awarded a medal for successfully completing a rather unpleasant piece of “housekeeping” for his employers and now it seems he is being side-lined. But all may not be quite as it seems and it is not long before Reacher and (very pleasingly) Neagley are back doing what we love best – tracking down the bad guys.

Night School has a bit of a different feel than most of the previous books in the series. Reacher is very much working as part of a team this time around (not his tight group of Special Investigators) but a bigger entity which includes the army, the FBI and the CIA.  There are more factions to juggle and the lines of enquiry are much bigger than Reacher taking down the few bad seeds in small town America.

I enjoyed the change of pace and the bigger scale of the story. The threat that the investigators are chasing down is a big deal, an international crisis and large parts of the book is set in Germany – putting Reacher right into the heart of the action.

Returning readers will enjoy some unexpected cameo appearances and there are lots of classic “Reacher” moments – the analysis of how a fight may unfold, Neagley being the best at everything and Reacher doggedly playing reasoned hunches.  Night School is another great read from Lee Child and already I am looking forward to the next.

 

Night School is published by Transworld and is available in Hardback and digital formats. You can order a copy through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-School-Jack-Reacher-21/dp/0593073908/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479573922&sr=1-1&keywords=night+school+lee+child

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August 27

It’s Jack Reacher Time!

This week will see the publication of the new Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child. It is safe to say that I am excited by this – Lee Child is now the only author I will buy on week of release (sorry Mr Pratchett, 10 months later and Raising Steam is still only half read).

I count myself fortunate that I found the first Lee Child novel (Killing Floor) around a month after it was first published. Hooked since day one I have enjoyed seeing the author’s popularity soar and the Reacher novels become bestsellers around the world. Lee Child writes books that I want to read.

His latest novel is entitled Personal and is the 19th Jack Reacher story. A review for that book will follow (just as soon as I can get my paws on it). In the meantime I thought I would put together a list of my five favourite Reacher stories:

In no particular order I recommend:

Killing Floor

This is where it all began! Book One. Meet Jack Reacher, former military cop – our hero.

Debut novel Killing Floor.
Debut novel Killing Floor.

Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles down a country road into Margrave, Georgia. An arbitrary decision he’s about to regret.

Reacher is the only stranger in town on the day they have had their first homicide in thirty years. The cops arrest Reacher and the police chief turns eyewitness to place him at the scene. As nasty secrets leak out, and the body count mounts, one thing is for sure.

They picked the wrong guy to take the fall.

This is an explosive start to the series, a small sleepy town is hiding dark secrets. Reacher is there by chance but finds himself caught up in events . To clear his name he must track down a murderer but it is kill or be killed and Reacher is not a man to back down from a challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

Without Fail

The Secret Service are looking for Reacher as they have a job for him – to assassinate the Vice President.

Book 6 in the series. If you are looking to avoid spoilers then this one should really be read after Killing Floor. I re-read the Reacher novels on a regular basis and Without Fail is one of the books I return to more than most. A clever plot which is both tragic and funny, it gives a great display of Reacher’s investigative prowess too. A highlight was the first introduction to Frances Neagley – she crops up again in

Bad Luck And Trouble

When Reacher was in the army he headed up a unit of Special Investigators within the Military Police. This close knit team were his hand-picked elite and they watched each other’s backs. Years later the Special Investigators have all lost touch and gone their separate ways but someone has killed one of the team and now Neagley wants Reacher to reassemble the Special Investigators.

I cannot speak highly enough of Bad Luck and Trouble. This was Book 11 in the series and we get to see Reacher working as part of a team rather than acting on his own. Lee Child has set some of his novels during Reacher’s time in the army (The Affair and The Enemy) I would love another story featuring the Special Investigators.

 

61 Hours

61 Hours
61 Hours

 

This book (number 14) kicked off a story arc which did not end until Never Go Back (book 18). While each story could be read as a stand-alone novel it does make more sense to read them in order.

I found 61 hours particularly atmospheric. The story plays out in a very snow filled town in South Dakota; Child nails his depiction of a desolate, cold and isolated town shut off from the outside world by snow storms. The local police are guarding a key witness who is going to help them prosecute a drug dealer but resources are stretched can they trust Reacher (a stranger) to guard their witness? To Reacher everyone is a stranger – can he protect the witness?

 

 

 

 

 

The Enemy

Finally I have selected one of the books set out of the normal chronology.

Back to the army in The Enemy
Back to the army in The Enemy

The Enemy is a story from the days that Reacher was still in the army. This was the 7th book released but our first look at how behaved when he was constrained by the rules and regulations of army life. Politics and distrust of the Military Police are rife and Reacher has to find a murderer on an army base when all the evidence suggests that Reacher himself is the killer.

 

 

 

The Jack Reacher novels can (generally) be read out of sequence as most are great stand-alone stories. It does help to read 61 Hours, Worth Dying For, A Wanted Man and Never Go Back in that order. Also Killing Floor has a major plot thread which is best read before Without Fail.

When Lee Child was touring to promote One Shot I was able to hear him discuss his work and read from his new novel (he has a great reading voice). During the Q&A’s Child confirmed that Reacher does grow older and the books do see him aging. This was around 10 years ago and later books do address Reacher getting older. However, one statement worried and saddened me…

When discussing the future of the character Child confirmed that Reacher would not go on forever. He suggested that one day there may be a book in which Jack Reacher would be killed off – provisional title on that evening in Glasgow was Die Lonely.

Ten years down the line and Reacher is still going strong – I hope it does so for many years to come.

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