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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Millenium || The Girl Who Played with Fire

 Learning why the Girl Played with Fire

As usual, I left a fad pass me by. For one reason or another, I refrained from reading the Millennium series back in 2010 and I never rode that wave with the rest of the world. Quick on the uptake, I am now currently expanding my literary pop culture and I have succumbed to Stieg Larsson. Larsson, you sensational writer and taken much too soon, I have a bone to pick with you. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo took me not 2 weeks to finish, not even a year to finish but almost a YEAR AND A HALF. In that space of time, I did move country and have three jobs but A YEAR. Come on, Stieg. In absolution, however, I finished it, moved home to Ireland and began the second in the Millenium Series. It took me two days. Two. Days.

The Girl Who Played With Fire

What a family.

I am not sure if I speak for all avid readers but the first instalment in the series, yes, used many of the common crime thriller ‘who-done-it’ techniques. Like burdening the reader with insane jargon of a mysterious family that occupy an entire island. (Crikey, that was a mouthful) Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel he relayed meticulous descriptions of each and every member which may or may not feature in the novel and left me exhausted yet made me realise I don’t even know my OWN family in such depth. It was at that point I put the book down and started on the rest of my bucket list, however, I wish I hadn’t. I had just put it down on (unbeknownst to me) the most crucial part when Salander joins Blomkvist on his quest for the truth. I must admit, upon returning to it 9 months later, I began to understand why these novels achieve such acclaim. The way Larsson tells a story is like dozing in the morning sun in summery Spain and then suddenly waking to 40 degree heat and all hell breaks loose because you’ve turned into a hot burning mess.

Choo choo!

What I enjoyed about The Girl Who Played with Fire, is that Larsson did not spend time repeating much of the first novel to an unknown reader but rather tied the important facts of each character seamlessly and from the get-go the novel took off on a completely new topic, as gripping and as filled with twists and turns as the search for Harriet Vanger in Millennium |. Rolling like a long-distance 1940’s steam train. This thriller moved steadily along, rushing at moments, but all we have to do is put all trust in Larsson, the driver, to take us to a satisfactory destination.

Phenomenal.

Literally. As Boyd Tonkin  said Lisbeth Salander “is the most original heroine to emerge in crime fiction for many years…” Independent. And he is utterly correct. To be expected Larsson weaves you into a web of characters once again and there were times I got a little lost within all the Swedish names. But, my god he captured me from start to finish. I could finally understand why these books had become a page turner for the masses.

Our Salander The Misfit

Lisbeth is a harrowing heroine that is the driving force behind this series (hence the title) A ruthless young woman with a hidden agenda of her own aspires readers to take the law into their own hands as she does so well. From a stylistic point of view Larsson has created a dominant character that is removed from one third of the book.  He left both the readers and his characters guessing for over 130 pages as to what could possibly be happening with Salander as the last we heard of her she was standing in a soon to be crime scene which amounted in two murders. This is a testament to the strength of his writing and his conjuring of such a powerhouse, yet vulnerable character of Salander. Like Blomkvist, we want to believe Salander is innocent but is murder completely out of character? I found myself returning to the last moment we see Salander, sitting having coffee with Johansson and Svensson to see if there is any clue whatsoever as to why she would be now charged with murder. And that begs the question of Zala. An apparent sub plot from the beginning that shocks us all by the end – the real reason the Girl Played with FIRE. But I am not interested in spoilers, I am more interested in what you think!

Life hacks to take from Lisbeth Salander

  • All rapists should be punished immediately – preferably with a makeshift tattoo gun. I recommend the poetry of “I AM A SADISTIC PIG, A PERVERT AND A RAPIST”. Let’s face it, these beautiful words are sufficient on any part of a violent sex offender’s body but the stomach is ideal as a blank canvas to write as big as you like. Remember, that should the offender repeat themselves then please do not refrain from repeating the poem along their foreheads.
  • Although never used, it is wise to always carry a hammer.
  • If at all possible, develop a photographic memory – this can come in handy in almost all walks of life.
  • When on holidays, like most do, study mathematical theorems that have baffled scientists for decades. (I’m not too sure why, but if this is something you enjoy then, by golly, it can’t be a bad thing!)
  • Befriend a fiery dominatrix woman for sex (because why not) and never ask her inappropriate questions, but do, take from her any cigarette case she may give as a gift. This is not only just a classy way to smoke but it has the power to remove you from all sticky suffocating situations.

 

As a whirlwind of originality, albeit time consuming, as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was, The Girl Who Played with Fire obliterated any feelings of contempt towards it. Needless to say, I was enthralled by the second Millennium instalment and I hope you were too. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into the third, and now possibly the FOURTH. However, I don’t know how pushed I am about someone continuing a series after the author’s death (I must look into that – any thoughts?). Please take this post as a tribute to Stieg Larsson, who has become one of the most sensational crime thriller writers of our time, unaffected by fame and money, he has given us raw talent, let his legacy live on for decades to come.

To any of you who is basking in the afterglow of one of Larssons great thrillers, half a decade after the rest of the world like me, Please leave a comment or send me a message with your thoughts, I would LOVE to hear what you think about it! 

I am always on the look out for new books so please, Online Literary World – any suggestions? It took me five years to pick up this trilogy and for the life of me I don’t know why so it’s safe to say I REALLY need your help!

Next up is The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul  by Deborah Rodriguez, stay tuned!