THE AFFAIR by Lee Child

Book Quote:

“I understand you’re doubly arrogant. First you thought I wouldn’t figure out your genius scheme, and then when I did, you thought you could deal with me all by yourself. No help, no backup, no arrest teams. Just you and me, here and now. I have to ask, how dumb are you?”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky (OCT 22, 2011)

What’s a writer to do when his action hero ages? One option is to go back in time.

In The Affair, Lee Child flashes back to 1997, when Major Jack Reacher (his thirty-six year old protagonist and first-person narrator) was an army MP. Leon Garber, Reacher’s commanding officer, sends Jack to Carter Crossing, Mississippi, to monitor a potentially explosive situation. The body of Janice May Chapman, twenty-seven, has been found with her throat cut. Since the army has a base in the area, there is reason to suspect that a rogue soldier may have committed this and other grisly crimes. Although Reacher is a highly skilled and meticulous investigator, Garber makes it clear that under no circumstances should he conduct his own inquiries. A fellow MP named Duncan Munroe will be on hand to ask the tough questions. Of course, it is laughable to expect Reacher to sit on the sidelines while Munroe does the heavy lifting. 

We have long admired Reacher for his intelligence, toughness, passion for justice, and ability to scrutinize the evidence for subtle clues that the average cop would miss. In addition, he is independent and rarely accepts anyone’s word at face value. As ever, Jack is low-maintenance, carrying no excess emotional or physical baggage. Since he has a clock in his head, what use would he have for a watch? As the weeks pass, Reacher realizes that the Chapman case has significant political and legal ramifications; he will have to watch his back carefully if he is to emerge unscathed.

Lee Child has great fun placing Jack in challenging situations that force him to use his brain power and formidable fighting skills to defeat his opponents. All work and no play, however, makes Jack a frustrated soldier. Therefore, he is delighted to learn that the town’s sheriff, Elizabeth Deveraux, a former Marine, is gorgeous and available. The two gradually get to know one another a little better. Unfortunately, complications ensue that may put a damper on their promising relationship.

Child colorfully depicts life in a rural southern enclave, with its cholesterol-laden food (cheeseburgers, fries, and pies are consumed in alarming amounts), irritating busybodies, and obnoxious louts. The author’s terse, no-nonsense prose style keeps the story moving briskly. As usual, Reacher does not rely solely on his formidable fighting skills. He taps into his network of army buddies to unearth vital information and uses old-fashioned legwork and sharp analysis to unravel a mystery that he was never meant to solve. Child keeps us turning pages with scenes of violent confrontations, a torrid romance, a juicy murder probe, and an intriguing back story that helps explains why Reacher left the army so suddenly and became a solitary wanderer.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 492 readers
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press; First Edition (September 27, 2011)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Lee Child (and Jack Reacher!)
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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October 22, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Sleuths Series, Thriller/Spy/Caper, US South

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