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.
Those who enjoyed Lee Child’s 61 HOURS were prepared for a breathtaking follow-up. How sad that WORTH DYING FOR is a throwback to a more one-dimensional Jack Reacher, a far less interesting protagonist than the one in 61 HOURS. In the previous installment, it was thrilling to see a new version of Reacherâ€”a man with flaws who made mistakes and was not able to win every battle. He also revealed a bit more of his background during telephone conversations with a woman named Susan whom he never meets. Since 61 HOURS ended in a cliffhanger, many of us expected that Child would pick up where he left off, perhaps heading in even more new directions.
61 HOURS alludes to a countdown that may presumably end in disaster. As the latest Lee Child thriller opens, a crooked lawyer conducts some shady business at a prison and then skids on the frozen roads of South Dakota, causing a bus carrying a driver, twenty seniors, and our hero, Jack Reacher, to crash into a ditch. Reacher, who is six foot five and physically fit, lends much-needed assistance to the bus driver and passengers, who are stranded near a town called Bolton. The local police send a rescue squad to bring in the victims before they freeze to death in the bitter cold.
Jack Reacher is in the Big Apple in Lee Child’s GONE TOMORROW. He is just passing through, minding his own business, but as usual, trouble follows Reacher wherever he goes. This time, he is heading uptown on the number six train at two o’clock in the morning when he spots a woman who is displaying many of the behavioral indicators of a suicide bomber.