Friday, December 24, 2010

Persuader - by Lee Child

Merry Christmas from the Vintage Crime Blog.  This week I'm reviewing Persuader by Lee Child, the seventh novel in the Jack Reacher series.  This is actually a re-read of the book for me.  I originally read the book in my Reacher obsession which started in March 2009 and finished in December 2009 with Gone Tomorrow (thank you order history).  Since then I've kept up with the books as they come out.  I started this novel December 17th and finished it on the 22nd.

I need to come out and say this right away: this is one of the top four Reacher novels in the series (The others being Killing Floor, Running Blind, and The Enemy).  This novel firmly cements Jack Reacher as one of my favorite characters.  This is one of those hard-to-put-down books that kept me up until 1 a.m. two nights in a row... on the second read!

Joseph Finder recommends this book as a book for thriller writers to learn from because of the opening.  He's totally right.  The beginning of the book starts in a small college town with Reacher wreaking some serious havoc with 2 Colt Anaconda .44 Magnum revolvers.  The story quickly moves on to a fictional location somewhere between Portland, ME and Saco, ME.  I've looked at google maps and found a perfect location.  The story then bounces between two story lines;  one in the present day and one ten years in the past when Jack was still an MP.  The stories blend well together seamlessly.  

Lee Child sets the perfect scene with the location in Maine.  He is incredibly descriptive without being over the top.  This pretty much applies to the way Lee Child describes everything in this novel.  There is a lot of gun talk in this one, which I can appreciate.  The reason I bring this up is because it is totally seamless in this novel.  Often, writers get hung up on technical descriptions of firearms, but it sounds like they just read a press release from Glock, and put it in the book.  When Reacher describes a firearm, it sounds like he's used it before, and knows exactly what it's going to do.  It really adds to the story in this case.

A lot of what Jack Reacher does in his novels is take an assumption of the enemy, and then turn it against them.  In this book, the bad guys think they are totally isolated and safe on their little peninsula jutting off into the Atlantic Ocean because of the surrounding inhospitable waters with riptide and wall topped with razor wire, etc.  So what does Jack do?  He creates the most memorable scene of the book by using it to his advantage.  I'm not going to say much more than that, but pay attention around page 151 (of the paperback edition) for one of my favorite scenes in ALL of the Reacher novels.

FYI, this story is told in the first person.  I think Lee Child bounces between first and third person between novels, but sticks with one for each novel.  I personally prefer the first person, since it really lets you get inside Reacher's head.

Overall, this novel is just about perfect.  The story is not over complicated there are great villains, and the ending is great.  My only criticism is that one of the main bad guys is a little over the top (Paulie).  You really have to read the novel to understand what I'm saying.  

For my next book I'm really going vintage!  The original Kurt Wallander novel by Henning Mankell!  Faceless Killers, the novel that set off my 5 month 9 novel obsession with Henning Mankell novels.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Spencer...great review! This was one of my favorite reads as well. And you are right about the gun talk. Lee Child does write about the guns in a way that makes you imagine him having actually tried them out a time or two.

    I'm excited to learn more about the Wallander series. They are on my list to read next year...which is turning out to be quite a long list of books.

    I just received my copies of The Red Carpet and The Moscow Club by Joseph Finder-when I'm finished, I may have to send them your way. Having the same reading interests is going to make your blog very, very fun for me.