The Hard Way : Jack Reacher Novel #10 by Lee Child. Was it Worth the Time?

My first introduction to Jack Reacher. Thank you, Lee Child, below, for handing a modern day hero for grown ups. This novel has an almost fantastical undercurrent to it. That ‘one man is magnificent and can solve all crimes’ we all like to believe in. You don’t ever find yourself doubting in Reacher’s ability to crime solve, which means you can easily sit back, and escape into this tale. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was incredibly thrilling but what I will say is that it is gripping, a plot you would think is easy enough to guess but actually you hit a few bumps and rocks along the way. It is a fast-paced novel worthy of it’s success but from online reviews it appears it may be the worst in the series. Which, is in fact promising.  As a virgin, never to have experienced Jack Reacher before, I have a few holes in this novel to pick with Lee Child about his style. Although he must be doing something right if this is number TEN in the series!

Lee Child The Hard Way

As I said, I haven’t read the other Jack Reacher novels but is Reacher supposed to be a know-it-all. I do appreciate Child’s desire to create a one-man-takes-on-the-world character, sort of modern day cowboy, to feed into the “child” in everyone, but at times it merely gets ridiculous. This is a man who can break a mans two wrists in one movement – OK, believable, because he is ex military – but he is also someone who knows the definition of a Grange offhand but has never heard about texting? This drew me out of the novel and thought of Lee Child sitting, trying to see where he can squeeze in a new found fact of the day. And for a character that has a tiny invisible clock in his head that allows him to tell the time perfectly in any time zone, ironically, makes me question what time the novel is set in!

Plotholes, mind you don’t fall in!

There is also a lot of plot holes. Where Reacher will be discussing facts with one of the ‘bad guys’ and they willingly discuss their pasts with him. Such happens in the scene where Reacher is trying to find out what happened to two of the men left in African war zone with one of the ‘guys’ Burke. Burke and Reacher take leisurely stroll where Reacher questions him about the two men, Hobart and Knight. For an Ex Marine, Burke seems altogether too eager to impart with information and seems to trust Reacher straight away. Child writes a few throw-away sentences of

“How (do you know their names)? Who have you been talking to? There’s nothing about them in those file cabinets you were looking through. Or in the computer. They’ve been erased. Like they never existed. Like they’re dirty little secrets. Which they are.’

Dirty Little Secrets..Why then, Burke, are you so happy to discuss them? You chat away with all the trust in the world to this person (Reacher) you just met and don’t even bat an eyelid when you see him rifling through your Commanding Officer’s filing cabinets? It is all too unrealistic, not only is Reacher apparently superhuman but he only suffers consequences for his actions if/when Child wants him to and/or when it progresses the plot.

Unbelievable…but in a good way?

There is also the case of Pauling recognising Reacher because Pattie must have passed along his physical appearance. However, it was clearly stated earlier that Patti has never been able to correspond with Pauling, she didn’t even know she was still working on her case. Maybe it is just me nitpicking, but these are the issues that pull me right out of a novel.

Ironically, as well, in his attempt to ‘colour’ his writing, I was taken even further out of the novel. Surprisingly from the very beginning his sentences are short and detached; it’s all very ‘matter-of-fact’. It takes a bit of time to get used to. But then you have, at times the opposite, like below. This is an extract when Child seems to remember he is a writer and tries to embellish his writing but ends up just saying the same thing in various different ways. His sense of description is convoluted and repetitive.

“two roads in, radial, like spokes in a wheel. One was north of northeast and the other was east of northeast. We called then the One O’clock Road and the Two O’clock Road. Like the face of a wristwatch? If twelve o’clock was due north, there were roads at the one o’clock position and the two o’clock position”.

Never Eat Shredded Wheat – North, East, South, West.

This extract also draws attention to the most infuriating addition to Child’s novel – the constant compass. Now, I should think that I am by no means unintelligent, but I still need to picture a compass in my mind and say my little rhyme (Never Eat Shredded Wheat) to even figure out where my house is positioned in the world. So forgive me if I skipped through Child’s constant breakfast bowl of shredded wheat. It seemed like every chapter was another description of a New York block that faced every which way. I am struggling to understand Child’s purpose for all of this, besides the fact that Reacher was in the army? Is this military talk? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but to me it is completely alienating. I’ve been to New York, but I didn’t care what was north or west then so I certainly don’t need to read about it.

Swimming in a pool of negativity.. but I still want more?

OK, I know I have been giving Lee Child a hard time so far, but how come in the end I can say I will definitely read the rest of the series, what does that say about me?

What I did like about this novel is that it is quite fast paced. Quickly getting over the patronising compass and random convoluted descriptions, the novel flowed well. I did think the climax was easy enough to guess, but there was still enough plot to distract the reader and take them on a journey. Despite all the parallel between minuscule matter-of-fact sentences and long convoluted attempts of embellishment

I read it in one sitting so I would happily go back and read the series from the beginning. It is fantastic as a one timer (I don’t think I will return to read it again anytime soon)

I have read some promising reviews of the other novels online and they have convinced me not to allow this novel to taint my opinion of the series. The Hard Way is a good enough book to stand alone, I did not feel like I was missing anything that could only have been learnt from the others, so overall I imagine it fits well within the series as a whole.

Apparently, the Reacher novels are worth reading because of the mixture of mystery, plot twists, action, and Reacher’s blend of justice. That sounds good doesn’t it?

Can anyone confirm this? Has anyone read any other of Lee Child’s? If anyone has more info on this strange ‘matter-of-fact’ writing – please save me from myself and let me know if it’s worth reading his others?!

All I know is, Lee Child has given us a tenth novel to help us escape from our world. Who cares if his writing isn’t on point, I will even overlook the compass, this character has an incredible skill to tell the time whenever and where ever he is (What?!). He also has a depth of knowledge that I am sure he never picked up in the army, learning how to smash the bones  in a wrist or send someones cheekbone into their brain, but this is fiction. Is that not OK? If we cannot create a fantasy in Fiction then where can we? 

One point of absolute value that I have taken from this book is Jack Reacher’s mantra of No use fretting about what you cannot control. Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you. For any of you that have read my About Me page, I live by the philosophy of – you always have the power to choose your own attitude. And it seems Reacher feels the same. Worrying won’t change things, so choose to be happy or proactive or crazy or dance around the place in moments of madness because you, and you alone, are the only person who can change how you feel. Don’t let anybody else do it for you.

lee_child

So, I salute you, Mr. Child, I look forward to seeing what other repetitive and bonkers situations Reacher can get himself into next!

Don’t forget to let me know what you guys thought in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

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35 thoughts on “The Hard Way : Jack Reacher Novel #10 by Lee Child. Was it Worth the Time?

  1. I went down the Jack Reacher black hole a few years ago. They are all very similar, with common flaws and holes…. yet are shockingly addictive? I probably read six or seven in a row before getting burnt out. They’re fun, fast reads at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I may be the same Lauren! Regardless of any of the issues I called out on, they are minor and easily overlooked really! I feel I am on my way down that black hole too haha I am definitely not finished with this series! Was there one in particular you’d recommend that you enjoyed?

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  2. interesting blog… I haven’t read any Lee Child…I’ll check it out. I do say I will forgive him for not knowing about “texting…” that is a very new concept, which may not have been in popular fad when the book was being written. 🙂

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    • I read your text again carefully, and I do like the way you write. I am a book dealer, and have thousands of books, so I should have some by Lee Child. If not I’ll look around. One thing that interests me is the references to his “clock” and the matter-of-fact thought processes of Jack Reacher. It sounds to me like this is a gimmick, a preoccupation of his… I like your blog. 🙂

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      • Oh please dig into that trove of books and see if you have any, I would love to hear your thoughts on his writing! Exactly, you’ve hit the nail on the head, I have heard many describe his writing as gimmicky, some get kind of sick of his use of italics and catchphrases! And thank you, I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

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        • I dont have any Lee Child in my Amazon inventory, but that doesn’t mean I dont have any at all. I mainly sell nonfiction, and a lot of hits from the 1970/1980s. I formerly had a couple of bookstores, but now everything is here. Mainstream modern fiction does not move fast, and dont bring in much cash.

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    • I can agree with you on that one! It was published in 2006 so perhaps he wasn’t as up to speed with texting as we are these days! Just a minor glitch! More to say about Reacher’s character than anything else. Thank you for reading though, much appreciated!

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  3. Well… I have nothing of value to contribute to the pros/cons of Lee Child’s books because I’ve not been introduced to them until this post. What I would like to say is you wrote a fabulous review, something others often struggle with. You were honest without being rude, and were able to back up those opinions without childlike tantrums. Ive seen that more times than I care to count. You were concise with your words and refrained from being too over-the-top. Great post. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kelly! I am still between two minds about whether to continue with the series or not.

      Thank you so much for your kind words, I did think I was getting quite whiney though. Thank you for taking the time to read mine, I’m looking forward to your next post!

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  4. I tend to give long running book series a wide berth and have yet to pick one up. Plot holes can be so disappointing, and the last book I read with a few gaping holes left me with mixed feelings as I wanted to like it so much.

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  5. I have read a couple Lee Child but am not a fan. I know what you mean about plot holes. There were also some time sequences out of order and a ridiculous premise to one story. My husband likes them so I stock them on his Nook for his reading pleasure. Lol! I may read more when I run out of books to read in 2025! 😂

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  6. If you’re interested in Lee Child and the Jack Reacher series, a book was recently released called “Reacher Said Nothing” by Andy Martin about Lee Child’s writing process and how he writes each Jack Reacher book. Highly recommended.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I read a couple of them – an early one and a later one. They were okay, but like you said, a little far-fetched that he’d be so unbeatable. They also are all pretty much the same (like Janet Evanovich’s books – no variation on the theme). I remember being disappointed that Tom Cruise played him in the movie. That little shrimp did not match the Reacher in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donna! Haha, I am laughing so much at you calling him a shrimp! I’ve never heard that expression before, here in Ireland, but it is so spot on. You’re right, didn’t the new movie come out recently with Cruise playing him again. I saw it advertised and just thought it was way too much of a franchise to even entertain, and Tom Cruise is nothing like I thought Reacher should be either, I completely agree. Hollywood stepping in once again to ruin our imagination!

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  8. FWIW, I also have a hard time completely embracing Lee Child’s work. I’ve written my own novels and can tell you from experience that it’s really hard to write great mysteries and thrillers. But I had to laugh when you mentioned the way total strangers would simply pour out information to Reacher. My sister has made the same complaint about Sue Grafton’s novels, which I love, despite their flaws.

    It’s hard for me to criticize other authors openly, since I consider them peers (even if they’re way more famous). I don’t want to be seen as harboring jealousy for them. Especially, since I’ve met Lee, and he is a really, really nice guy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is such a great point. I would have incredible trouble reviewing authors that i have met or know personally. I think what I try to do here on my blog, which only started as a way to put pressure on myself to delve deeper into books, is offer a critical response. I advocate for all kinds of responses but I truly believe, as a writer myself, that when you put a piece out into the world, its a great privilege that someone takes the time to read it. To engage with it, good or bad, is like art to me. Something beautiful. How our own humble minds illicit a response in someone else.

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