Lee Child






Random House Australia, April 2006
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith

Jack Reacher is a maverick. He is a gun-for-hire, with the remorse gene missing, ex-military, photographic memory, and an incredible ability to tell time without a watch. Late one night as he sits in a New York cafe drinking coffee from a foam cup, ready to move at a moment's notice, he sees a man unlock a car, get in, and drive away. The next night Jack is back in the same cafe at the same time when a man approaches him and asks what he saw the previous night. Jack is able to describe the car, its number plate, make and colour.

Edward Lane, on the other hand, is a wealthy man running an illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. His wife has been kidnapped and he engages Jack to find her. Jack's hackles rise when he learns that this is the second time Lane has lost a wife this way.

This is the tenth title in the Jack Reacher series, but the first I've read. If the other titles are like this one, then I'm sure his readers have been waiting for THE HARD WAY with great anticipation. If this is your first acquaintance with Jack Reacher, no matter. THE HARD WAY seems to work well as a stand-alone. I wasn't aware of missing knowledge from earlier books. In fact, Lee Child says that he deliberately writes his books so that it doesn't matter where you start, although on his website at he does give two 'recommended' reading orders.

Those who have read other books in the series will be waiting to to find out whether this book is written in the first or third person. I'm not going to spoil the suspense by revealing it here. It is interesting that Lee Child has chosen to write the Jack Reacher books from two different angles. From the website: "Lee says writing in first person is more natural for him. But writing in third person gives him more freedom when building suspense. With third person narrative, the suspense builds easily as the reader can essentially see around corners and anticipate events about which Reacher has no knowledge. With the first person narrative, the reader can only know what Reacher knows."

Lee Child is British, but after he was made redundant from his job in television, he moved with his family from Cumbria to the United States to start a new career as a writer of American thrillers. He now divides his time between France and New York. Lee is published in 43 countries and 29 languages worldwide.

I enjoyed THE HARD WAY immensely. This is an exciting read, essentially a thriller, but with enough little puzzles and red herrings to interest the mystery reader as well. There were times that I really couldn't see the path the story would take next. Jack Reacher is resourceful, inventive and never afraid of starting from the beginning, of doing things the hard way. The tension builds all the time and the reader really arrives breathless in the final pages.

THE HARD WAY is due for release in Australia and Singapore in April 2006, in New Zealand, South Africa, the US and Canada in May 2006, and in UK, Europe and the Open Market in July 2006.

Review first published on Murder and Mayhem April 2006.


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