So during some interval of excess travel a year or two ago, I found myself reading an excerpt of one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels on my Kindle, courtesy of an ad in the New Yorker. I remember thinking the combo seemed odd, but now that I’m 7 books into the series I guess they knew better than I.
The Reacher books are pretty dumb. Let’s get that out in the open immediately. I tend to see Child’s “clever plot developments” coming a mile off, mostly because they aren’t all that clever. But these stories of a wandering vigilante former Army major (who, famously, keeps neither a fixed address or even a suitcase) came along at pretty much the right time: we were all out of Dresden at the time, and Robert Parker is dead, and now what antisocial chaotic good badass is going to entertain me on plane rides or when I’m otherwise too braindead to read the next really good book on my stack?
So, Reacher. Six novels in, he’s fought bloodthirsty counterfeiters, insane militia separatists, megalomaniacal, crazed Vietnam vets from central casting (by way of Blofeld), a really lame serial killer, and weirdly obsessed would-be assassins of a fictional vice president. None of them are very good, but the thing is you run through the book in only a couple hours anyway. (Seriously, I never would have read so many without the Kindle’s ability to buy on the run.)
I thought briefly about a more detailed discussion of these pulp delights, but that seems pointless. I will say that order does sort of matter — each book is self contained, but later ones refer to previous adventures — so if you’re inclined, start with Killing Floor. It’s a bit more graphically violent than the others, and was published in 1997, so it’s mildly outdated, but still fun.