The description ‘page turners’ might have been coined for Lee Child’s Jack Reacher thrillers. I would say that they are the perfect time waster – like cats on the Internet – except that this would be to do them an injustice. Well written, exciting, with a charismatic hero and tension that builds from page to page, they truly are books that you cannot put down.
I’ve read maybe half a dozen, including this one. While I thoroughly enjoyed them all, A Wanted Man has more substance than most of the ones I have read in that the plot is intricate and ingenious. Many layered with convoluted twists and turns. The characters too are more rounded, the old county sheriff, for instance – Sheriff Goodman, who was indeed a good man.
The story begins. A man in a green winter coat goes into a concrete bunker, followed by two men in black suits. There is a short pause. The two men in the black suits come out again. They get into a red car and drive off. The man in the green winter coat doesn’t come out again. Then blood pools out from under the concrete bunkers door.
The scene having been thus set, we now shift to Jack Reacher. Hitchhiking, as is his habit. With very little luck, which is also typical. And then he gets picked up and his luck changes. For the worse.
It seems that this book follows Worth Dying For, which in turn follows 61 Days. I didn’t find this confusing. I did wonder how Reacher’s nose came to be broken. I also wondered why he was trying to get to Virginia. But these were passing thoughts because those events were not part of this story and, unlike some other books I’ve read recently, the author doesn’t attempt to try and cram those past books into this one. There’s no need. The action in A Wanted Man is absorbing enough on its own. No doubt knowing what went before would be interesting. But not knowing took away nothing from my enjoyment.
Lee Child’s simple and laconic prose might not suit every type of book, but it’s perfect for his Jack Reacher books. There’s room for every style of writing and I derive great pleasure simply from reading these beautifully crafted words. Not great literature maybe, but certainly good writing. And a master of tension and suspense. A good read, in every sense of the phrase.