Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Affair: A Reacher Novel, by Lee Child

I am a fan of Mr. Child's action / mystery series featuring hero Jack Reacher.   Like many of his successful colleagues, Mr. Child has the challenge of publishing new stories about the same person over a very long timespan.  Unlike Hercule Poirot, Reacher is a quite physical hero; can he credibly deliver against a heavy action plot line as he ages?

This novel deals with the problem by going back in time, to 1997.   As a consequence, I was not eager to read this:  for some reason it didn't seem interesting to go back to an earlier Reacher character.   But I had to spend a few hours in a waiting room, the library had a copy for me, so I gave it a go.

It was a fortunate situation.   This is a very enjoyable novel for what it is (this isn't Dostoevsky we're discussing you know).   It quite follows the standard Lee Child template:   hero rolls into town, meets lovely lady, meets numerous bad guys, outwits them and out fights them, hits the lonely road again after having saved the day.

One complaint.    Even by the standards of this genre, the violence was extreme.   Well, not so much extreme as in a horror movie, but extreme in that there were three executions with no consequence.  No discussion really, about their appropriateness or implication.   If Mr. Child wants to maintain the premise of a moral hero (who does illegal things on occasion), then it seems to me he needs to build a hero who at least acknowledges the immorality (or at least the questionable legality) of his actions.

I'm betting that the typical Lee Child fan isn't bothered by this any more than the typical Brad Thor fan gets annoyed at jingoistic rants.

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