Book Reviews: Jack Reacher (books 21-24, plus the short story collection)

After a three-year hiatus, I returned to my boy Jack Reacher in the Lee Child series of books. If you’re not familiar with Jack Reacher, my shorthand description is: Think James Bond, but a bigger and badder (as in ass-kicker) minimalist.

To be honest, I don’t even remember when I started the Jack Reacher books, but I do know I started with the sixth in the series, Without Fail, and then went back to the first book, Killing Floor, and read all of them.

But by 2016, with the 20th book in the Jack Reacher series, Make Me, I slowed down considerably. It took me six months to finish (which is essentially six months longer than usual), and after I finished, I took a three-year hiatus. Part of that is attributable to simply not reading as much during that period at all, and part of it was being burnt out by Jack Reacher.

That tends to happen to me. I’ll get really into something, binge it for weeks on end, and then burn out on it. Eventually, I’ll return to it, but I need some time away. Well, the time away did good here. In late 2019, I returned to the series with the 21st book, Night School, then Past Tense, the collection of short stories, No Middle Name, and Blue Moon.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m now moving my Goodreads series of reviews over to my blog, at least from this year (some of the Reacher ones are technically from late last year, but they’re all together anyhow). So here are the reviews for each of the books I just mentioned.

Again, I don’t do spoilers in my reviews. No spoilers ahead.

Night School

I had a random fit of nostalgia for Jack Reacher. It had been nearly four years since I last completed a Reacher book, coming off the heels of reading all 20 at that point. So maybe the nostalgia is talking with that five stars, but I did binge it all in one day. It was pure, guttural, back-to-form Reacher. Brains, minimalism, ass-kicking, and sex. That’s Reacher. A fun story here, too, surrounding Germany and the U.S. military.

It’s also worth pointing out that Lee Child loves America — he did create an American military protagonist arguably in the mold of John Wayne, after all — and it clearly shows in this book. There’s a lot of, to use that word again, nostalgia for the America of yesteryear in this. Although not all of it turns out to be positive…

I missed Reacher, and I’m glad to have him back.

The Midnight Line

This wasn’t my favorite Reacher book. I don’t mind slow, but it was almost *too* slow. I felt like the first 100 pages could have been called, “The Hitchhiker.”

The mystery and the impulse to return the ring is well and good — it’s a Reacher impulse, to be sure — but the drug angle didn’t catch me much. As in, Reacher taking on a few pill-pushers didn’t interest me much as far as opposition was concerned.

Also, some of the dialogue was a little cheesy (I know some would say all Reacher books have cheesy dialogue, but this one felt particularly pronounced enough for me to notice it).

That all said, I did enjoy them hanging out in Wyoming and South Dakota. It made for an interesting and unique backdrop. That’s always been a welcome hallmark of Reacher books is that they are set in places beyond the usual, like a New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles.

Past Tense

(Apparently, I went really short on this review.)

I would say this one is my favorite among the newer Reacher books. It’s different — even different fights! — and I dig the genealogy angle.

No Middle Name (Jack Reacher short stories)

I quite liked this collection of short stories. It was fun to just get snippets of Reacher being Reacher, and different scenarios we might not see in a feature length book. Not all the stories landed with me — in particular, oddly enough, I thought the last five were pretty weak (although I appreciated “The Picture of the Lonely Diner” playing off of my favorite painting).

My favorite for pure short and sweet Reacherness was “Everyone Talks.”

“Second Son” was good because I like reading about his family.

“High Heat” was probably the best, though, albeit the rather silly element with the Son of Sam, but I just loved the atmosphere and time period Child painted.

Blue Moon

(Another one I wrote rather short on.)

This might be the best Reacher book in years. It’s certainly the most action packed one in a while, and I enjoyed the back-and-forth speculation of the rival gangs.

The Washington Post bit was silly to me — the character and the dialogue just didn’t ring true — but otherwise, a very readable book

                                         ______________________________________

I’m looking forward to the 25th Jack Reacher book, The Sentinel, which is supposed to be out in October. I am rather sad that Lee Child is passing the torch on the book, handing it over to his brother, Andrew Grant. And particularly on a momentous occasion as the 25th book. But it seems James Grant (his real name, as Lee Child is a pen name) doesn’t want to overstay his welcome with the character.

I can respect that, and still be sad. We’ll see how the new one lands.

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