BookBrowse Reviews Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child

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Bad Luck and Trouble

by Lee Child

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
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  • First Published:
    May 2007, 377 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2008, 512 pages

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In a world of bad luck and trouble, when someone targets Jack Reacher and his team, they’d better be ready for what comes right back at them

On June 21st 2005 Lee was signing copies of his latest book in a small town outside of Chicago when he started to get a niggling feeling about the date - had he forgotten his wedding anniversary, an important birthday? As he ran through important dates in his mind he recollected that it was exactly ten years since the bittersweet day that he'd been fired from his previous job (which had given him the impetus to turn his hand to writing novels). He fell into a fit of nostalgia, wondering what had happened to old colleagues, how they were doing and what they looked like now? From these thoughts came the idea for his 11th Reacher novel, in which Reacher is reunited with members of his team from ten years ago, people that he loved fiercely and respected deeply, including Francis Neagley who was previously seen in Without Fail.

When a series hits double digits there's usually little left to explore about a protagonist's character, which is why reuniting Reacher with his old team of ex-army investigators is such an inspired move. Firstly, the supremely confident Reacher, who has rarely felt a moment of doubt in his life as we know it, finds himself measuring his life choices as a drifter against those of his colleagues, who all enjoy various degrees of personal or professional success as measured by normal societal standards.  As a result, for the first time, Reacher experiences that ubiquitous human emotion, self-doubt - albeit, not for very long!  Secondly, Reacher has always acted alone, but is now seen functioning as the leader of a team in environments not of his choosing, revealing new and fascinating aspects to his character.  And, of course, reuniting the remnants of the old team generates a feel-good camaraderie reminiscent of movies such as The Magnificent Seven, where one knows that the rusty skills of the individuals will meld into one effective whole just in time to give the bad guys a serious walloping!

As always, the body count is substantial and Reacher, who lives by his own moral code, dispenses justice in his inimitable fashion above and below the belt. The bad guys, lacking any redeeming qualities or indeed any character development beyond what is necessary for their role, are clearly beyond redemption and get their comeuppance in satisfying eye-for-eye fashion.

Child's writing style continues to get tighter and more powerful. Little time is wasted on peripheral chat, keeping the plot firmly moving forward. When a little extraneous detail is introduced you can be sure that it is important and that the mathematical, code-obsessed brain of Reacher will puzzle it over and, just in time, add the missing piece to the puzzle.

In short, Child offers supremely satisfying, intelligent action - a must read for existing fans and a great starting point for newcomers.

This review was originally published in June 2007, and has been updated for the March 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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