Jack Reacher is about to become big business. He’s already one of the most popular action heroes in literature, and rightly so, but soon we will get to see the 6 foot 7, battle scarred brick shithouse of an ex Military Policeman played on screen by none other than… Tom Cruise. No, I don’t know either… perhaps he’ll stand on a box all the way through, so good luck with that, fella.
Anyway, regardless of insane Hollywood casting, it’s good to know that the real Reacher, the one in your head, is going strong in this, his 17th outing. For those not in the know, Jack Reacher is one of the good guys. An intriguing man with the brawn and macho appeal of John Wayne mixed with the intellect and general smarts of Sherlock Holmes, Reacher left the army, his home for so many years, and decided to see America. He does that by basically being a drifter, carrying only a toothbrush and a cash card as he wanders from place to place and getting into trouble. He doesn’t start the trouble, mind, but you can be sure he will finish it. A man with a deep sense of justice regardless of the law, he lives by the maxim “I don’t want to put the world to rights, I just don’t like people to put it to wrongs.”
So in this latest book, it’s no surprise that shit happens, and as usual Reacher is right in the middle of it. He hitches a ride from two men and a woman, and soon enough it’s very clear that these people are not what they pretend to be, and it’s just possible that Reacher may have made himself the focus of a manhunt just by being seen with them. Oops! The man just can’t stay away from this sort of thing, and even when he has the chance to walk away, he just has to stick around and make things right, which often involves punching or shooting bad guys and being generally a big old Mr Grumpypants.
“A Wanted Man” will not disappoint Lee Child fans. The central mystery is intriguing and well structured, never straightforward and very hard to second guess (I got close a few times but never hit it on the head). As usual, it shoots along, throwing in plenty of detailed description and odd trivia, with Child’s research and experience with the character making you believe that Reacher is really writing this with Child his nom de plume. As ever, the worst thing about it is that it’s too easy to read, and very soon you’ve raced through the 400+ pages and have to start the long wait for another one. Simply put, in the Jack Reacher books Lee Child has created one of the best literary heroes in popular modern fiction, and everyone should try his books at least once.