The Affair by Lee Child
MY RATING: 4 of 5 Stars
Let me say right up front that this review is really about Lee Child’s entire Jack Reacher series. I have read all sixteen books, and with the exception of #12, “Nothing To Lose,” I have loved every single one. (“Nothing to Lose” wasn’t bad, either, but got a bit too snipey about U. S. politics, and I don’t enjoy that when reading fiction. Fiction, for me, is escape from the day to day, including whatever is coming out of Washington at any given time. Therefore, I could only rate “Nothing To Lose” at 3 stars.)
I’m not usually drawn to male-oriented action books, but in the case of Jack Reacher, it’s very easy to make an exception. Jack is a phenomenon. He’s a mountain of a man, whose very size is almost a character in and of itself, hence my utter bewilderment at casting the height-challenged Tom Cruise to play him in “The Killing Floor,” but that’s a discussion for another day. Basically, Jack Reacher is an ex-Army MP, traveling the country as his fancy dictates, with nothing more than a folding toothbrush in his pocket and access to his bank account, when necessary. He wears one outfit until it’s dirty, then buys a new one, wherever he happens to be, changes in the dressing room, and leaves the old one in the trash. A man who refuses to be encumbered by belongings, in other words. Of course, he stumbles upon various ne’er-do-wells and evil schemes pretty much everywhere he goes, and therein lies each tale. Reacher will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of righting wrongs and meting out justice, as he sees it. He is basically a law unto himself, which in the real world, would be a very bad thing. But, don’t we ALL long to be able to forgo the process, cut to the chase, and kick some major Bad Guy Butt from time to time? Of course we do. So reading about Reacher’s fictional adventures gives us the chance to do just that, in a vicarious and harmless way.
“The Affair” is the first of the Reacher books to be told as a prequel to the stories preceding it. I didn’t enjoy the flashback aspect of the story as much as I have the other books in the series, and I wasn’t crazy about the addition of more graphically described sex than usual. It felt like an afterthought to me, added to sell more books. But even having said that, it still rated a solid 4 stars from me. Literary genius at work? Hardly. But a well-crafted addition to a series that seldom fails to deliver exactly as advertised? You bet.
Here’s hoping Lee Child will stay away from “real life” politics in future stories, and that Hollywood will actually start READING books before casting them. All the acting experience in the world will never turn Tom Cruise into a 6’5″, 220 pound man with fists “the size of hams,” so I will skip the movie and get my next Reacher Fix from the release of “A Wanted Man,” due out September 11 for those keeping track.
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