Tag Archives: Lee Child

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 72. On Smiley.

No, not the emoticon but the character: John Le Carre’s famous spymaster, George Smiley. Coming out of a screening of the recent adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I thought about fictional characters authors are most famous for. Fleming has Bond, Lee Child has Jack Reacher, Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes.

For people of a certain age, Sir Alec Guinness’s portrayal of Smiley was the benchmark by which Gary Oldman would be judged. But now Le Carre’s creation has a new lease of life, and  I would love to see him return for another adventure.

Classic characters will live forever.

 

Jack Reacher: Literary Action Hero Supreme

Extract from Worth Dying For (2010)

Reacher said, “Pop quiz, guys. You spent four years in college learning how to play a game. I spent thirteen years in the army learning how to kill people. So how scared am I?”

No answer.

“And you were so bad at it you couldn’t even get drafted afterwards. I was so good at it I got all kinds of medals and promotions. So how scared are you?”

“Not very,” said the guy with the wrench.

Wrong answer.

End of extract.

Jack Reacher is an ex-Military Policeman and the hero of Lee Child’s fifteen novels. I’ve read them all and they’re a masterclass in succinct, action-packed thriller writing. Child and Reacher are my heroes.

In the above extract, taken from Child’s latest novel, Worth Dying For, all you need to know about Reacher is there. I’ve no doubt in my mind that already you have an image of what he looks like and how he thinks.

He can survive anything the bad guys throw at him. In the end of the last book, 61 Hours, there was some doubt about whether or not he made it out of the cave that was packed to the hilt with explosives. There was no mention of him getting out. In Worth Dying For there is no mention of how he did manage to escape; except that he did. He’s bruised and in some pain, but that’s not enough to stop him from being a relentless force for good.

In a fight between Rambo and Reacher, Reacher would make the muscle-bound Vietnam vet eat his bandanna through a tube.

In a scrap between the Incredible Hulk and Reacher, it would be the monster who’d get smashed.

In a duel between James Bond and Reacher, all the gadgets in the world wouldn’t save 007 from an embarrassing end.

That’s how good Reacher is as a fictional action hero. He shouldn’t exist. But he does. He shouldn’t be real. But he is.

My recommendation? Start with The Killing Floor and work your way through the series. Be prepared for late nights because these books do not let up.

After The Dark Tower Come These…

I reckon I’ll be busy with The Dark Tower series until the end of September. But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what I’m going to read next. For my birthday last week I got a present from my girlfriend of a book voucher for Chapters Bookstore on Dublin’s Parnell Street. So armed, I headed in last weekend and this is what I came out with.

Lock Down by Sean Black

I’m a big fan of action and adventure. At the very start of my “mature” reading I picked up Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity. It was the start of a literary love affair that was to continue until his death. I think I’ve read all of Ludlum’s novels. Nowadays, his successors have tried to duplicate his formula, with Christopher Reich being the best of the lot, in my opinion. I like them short and to the point, though, and I’ve heard good things about Sean Black’s debut, Lock Down. It’s the first in a series featuring ex-military bodyguard Ryan Lock. If this scenario rings familiar bells, it’s because it sounds similar to:

61 Hours: a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child.

Jack Reacher is the original and the best. Lee Child’s creation is the man I most want to be. A laconic ex-Military Police, former Major Reacher is a man without a home. With nothing in his pocket but a toothbrush and an ATM card, he travels the US, putting wrongs to right, sending the bad guy(s) on a one-way trip to Hell, and nabbing the girl whenever he has a chance. The action scenes in Child’s novels are a masterclass in succinct, tension-filled writing. When I grow up, I want to be an amalgamation of both Reacher and Child. Sigh.

In The Dark by Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham is perhaps better known as the creator of Detective Inspector Tom Thorne of London’s Metropolitan Murder Squad. This book, In The Dark, is his first stand-alone thriller. I’m expecting it to equal Thorne’s best cases, such as Scaredy Cat and Lazy Bones. Billingham also has a career as a stand-up comedian, so his dialogue is lightly spiced with one-liners, as well as wry political observation. I enjoy his writing and I look forward to seeing how Sky TV get on with adapting his characters later this year.

Karin Slaughter is a crime writer I can’t praise enough. From Blindsighted right through to her most recent novel, Broken, Ms. Slaughter (that’s her real name, by the way) tells of events in Grant County, GA. Her recurring characters, Sara Linton, her husband, Jeffrey and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Will Trent are well written individuals: damaged, flawed, but instilled with a sense of honour and justice, despite the horrors that face them in each novel. With the purchase of Genesis and Broken, I am now up to date with the lady’s work.

Genesis by Karin Slaughter

Broken by Karin Slaughter

And for my own lady, because of her generosity and love, I return the favour. She is a supporter of Chelsea Football Club, the reigning Premier League champions. This one I bought for her:

The "Special One": Jose Mourinho

The less said about Chelsea, the better…I’m a Manchester United fan. Enjoy your moment, my friends, we’ll be taking it back off you this coming season.