Jack Reacher Novels: What Makes Them so Appealing?
What makes this protagonist so likable? It's probably not his wardrobe. He owns only one set of clothes and wears the same thing for days at a time, pressing the outfit by tucking it neatly under his mattress. Then, he throws the shirt and pants away, usually in the trash bin at the place where he buys a replacement outfit. He doesn't like baggage.
He is insubordinate, multi-talented, well-traveled, a drifter, extremely tall at six-foot five, muscular, and owns some nasty looking scars. He has a built in internal clock that lets him know the time of day within seconds and eliminates the need for an alarm clock. Better yet, his powers of deductive reasoning rival those of Sherlock Holmes.
Maybe the reader identifies with him because he's a man's man. He goes far out of his way to protect a damsel in distress. Whether it's a sister figure, like Jodie, the daughter of his former commanding officer, or a small child, or even a stripper, he takes on the challenge of setting things right when it comes to women or the vulnerable.
Killing Floor, Introducing Jack Reacher
Killing Floor was the first Lee Child novel to introduce Jack Reacher as the main character. In the story, the author piles on layers of intrigue, driving the reader onward beyond curiosity; driven by the need to find out more detail. The setting is a quiet Southern town, incredibly idyllic. It's the kind of place where most people wish they'd grown up. But when the layers of reality peel back, the ugly truth about the town and the people who work and live there paints an entirely different picture.
Through lots of action and non-stop battered corpses, this action figure battles his way toward the secret that, once revealed, changes everything.
Tripwire, A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child
In Tripwire, Child creates a heinous villain whose stock market profiteering and treachery stretches back to his time in Vietnam. He's the sort of criminal that lacks any degree of conscience or sense of decency. Throughout the mystery, the victims multiply and Jack Reacher comes close to becoming another body on a slab.
In a rare phase where he's actively involved with the daughter of his former commanding officer, he follows her into a battlefield where few make it out alive. Another page turner that keeps the reader spellbound, eager to see what comes next.
Stock Exchange Monitor
Jack Reacher, who calls himself Reacher, has a preferred method of buying goods and services and that's cash. Only in his later escapades has he added an ATM card to his baggage to draw money from his retirement pension. He has no permanent address where he can be contacted or receive mail. He doesn't own a computer or a cell phone although he expertly understands how they work and how to use them.
He has no driver's license despite often finding himself behind the wheel of a car, an SUV or even a Humvee where he demonstrates driving proficiency. He tends to get arrested on a regular basis, but, thanks to his exceptional military personnel record, he is quickly vindicated.
He checks into cheap motels using the names of former presidents, paying for one day at a time, carrying only his folding toothbrush as luggage. He drinks gallons of coffee and is a connoisseur of the proper blend, ingredients and most adequate vessel best serving the tastiest brew.
He's well educated, often borrowing philosophies from the greats of the past. He speaks of Zeno and laments of human kind's atavistic human fears; a feeling that "there's something out there". He claims to know the inner workings of the minds of soldiers, citing that their greatest fear is not death but of sustaining a grotesque wound."
He grew up mostly in Europe, the dependent of a military officer who traveled from one foreign base to another lending a desire to explore the continental United States as if a tourist. He's considered career military, growing up in a military family, then, joining the Army and working his way up the ranks to Major. He's experienced downsizing from the perspective of the military reducing forces. He saw the cloud on the horizon and voluntarily left a position of authority and power to become a vagrant with no permanent address.
Each of the novels by author Lee Child has the power to captivate beginning with the opening paragraph. These novels are true page-turners. His style is neither grammatical nor intellectually stuffy. He writes like most of us either think or talk, in fragments and exclamations. That may be one of the ways he draws and keeps the reader's attention.
Child's stories generally follow the same basic pattern of events. Reacher is new in town, usually hitchhiking or getting off a bus. He gets into a fight that he wins. He's arrested and held in jail for a short period of time. Then he's released once they run a search on his military records. The cops in the town often turn to him for help and advice to tap Reacher's vast experience as a special investigator in the military police.
The author's style includes rich descriptive narrative like "Satellite dishes tilted up and facing southwest like a regiment of expectant faces." His words paint clear pictures, often graphic and detailed.
But why do people like Reacher? He's a hero. He's a man's man. He always does the right thing. He looks after the underdog in a story that spills out a web of intrigue that hooks the reader on the mystery right up front and fills in the gaps with fascinating detail and introspection into the human condition. He has a deep understanding of human nature.
Watching workers return home from a twelve hour shift, he summarizes their activity. "He saw hopeful boys with balls and mitts looking for a last game of catch. He saw some fathers agree and some refuse. He saw small girls run out with treasures that required urgent inspection."
He's flippant, self-assured, refined to an extent, homeless, and a veteran who is seemingly invincible when it comes to beating the odds in barroom brawls or against characters with superior size and strength.
Movie Trailer - One Shot, Starring Tom Cruise
One Shot - The Movie
Lee Child's ninth novel plays out in an action packed full length movie starring Tom Cruise, an unlikely choice for the part. Although charismatic in the role, Cruise falls far short of the stature and build of the character he portrays. Even so, he pulls off the role with his standard ease and style.
Co-staring Rosamund Pike and Robert Duval, who add their expert talents to the story, Jack Reacher works with the homicide team to solve this seemingly open and shut case against a former military sniper who stages an attack in a public place in broad daylight.
Still, he manages to solve the mystery, win the affection of the girl, come out standing on a four against one bar fight, shoot a rifle with insane accuracy, drive a Super Sport vintage Malibu with incredible finesse and prove wrong those who presume the guilt of a man accused of a sniper attack.
About the Author
Lee Child is the pen name for James Grant, born in Coventry, England in October of 1954. His first novel, Killing Floor, in 1998, won the Anthony and Barry Awards for best first novel. He characterizes his novels as revenge stories. "Somebody does a very bad thing, and Reacher takes revenge."
This author is also a talented TV director and the source for hours of television commercials along with a host of short stories he's penned. A lengthy series of books followed featuring the main character, Jack Reacher. You can find more titles and details on the official web site of Mr. Lee Child.
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Peg Cole