- File Size: 2696 KB
- Print Length: 369 pages
- Publisher: Delacorte Press (September 2, 2014)
- Publication Date: September 2, 2014
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0804178763
- ISBN-13: 978-0804178761
- ASIN: B00HBQWGXK
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,918 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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|Book 19 of 25 in Jack Reacher|
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“Reacher is the stuff of myth, a great male fantasy. . . . One of this century’s most original, tantalizing pop-fiction heroes . . . [Lee] Child does a masterly job of bringing his adventure to life with endless surprises and fierce suspense.”—The Washington Post
“Yet another satisfying page-turner.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Reacher is always up for a good fight, most entertainingly when he goes mano a mano with a seven-foot, 300-pound monster of a mobster named Little Joey. But it’s Reacher the Teacher who wows here.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times
“Jack Reacher is today’s James Bond, a thriller hero we can’t get enough of. I read every one as soon as it appears.”—Ken Follett
“Reacher’s just one of fiction’s great mysterious strangers.”—Maxim
“If you like fast-moving thrillers, you’ll want to take a look at this one.”—John Sandford
“Fans won’t be disappointed by this suspense-filled, riveting thriller.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Child is the alpha dog of thriller writers, each new book zooming to the top of best-seller lists with the velocity of a Reacher head butt.”—Booklist
“Every Reacher novel delivers a jolt to the nervous system.”—Kirkus Reviews
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The premise for this latest effort is only finally revealed on the last few pages, and you can't help but groan "Oooooh come on! Reeeeeeally?" While most Reacher books, and indeed most thrillers, require a leap of faith somewhere, this is just awful. For a start, the two - sniper scenario is lifted straight from Ian Fleming's very first James Bond book "Casino Royale".
Then there're the guns. Child has never been good at ballistics, but how hard would it be for him to do some fact checking? This is after all, a book about snipers. We are repeatedly told that a 50 cal. BMG bullet will take 3 seconds to travel 1,400 yards. But it doesn't. Bullet velocity is usually referred to in feet per second. For a bullet to take three seconds to travel 1,400 yards, it would have to average 1,400 feet per second for the whole distance. The trouble is that with a normal load, from a rifle such as Child describes, a ballistically efficient bullet would leave the muzzle at around 2,800 feet per second, and still be doing over 1,700 feet per second at 1,400 yards. That's an average of over 2,200 feet per second, and means the bullet would take just under two seconds to arrive. Splitting hairs? Not when Child goes into such repeated detail as central to the plot.
Still on guns, he writes in detail about testing various calibres on bullet proof glass. Among the cartridges he says were tested is the 7.62 mm NATO. He then goes on to say that the .308 Winchester specifically wasn't tested. They are for all intents the same cartridge; one is military, and the other is the commercial version. Can't he run this by someone before he goes into print?
Even more. In the climactic fight scene, Reacher and two sidekicks are confronted with an unarmed 6'11" man mountain "bigger than a gorilla". They are all carrying 9mm pistols, but are afraid to shoot him, not because they might miss, but because they think the bullets would go clean through him and kill some poor neighbour in their London suburban home. Damn! Looks like Reacher will just have to fight him hand to hand. Look, these are 9mm slugs shot at pretty low velocity, not some cannon. After penetrating that much flesh and bone, they're going nowhere. Just shoot him!
Then there's the mind numbing scene in the giant's house, where Reacher loses his perspective. It's just too awful. Regretfully, the only way I'll read a new Reacher now is if I know in advance that Reacher dies. It really is time for Child to kill him off. Until then, if I need a Reacher fix, I'll have to content myself with re-reading the old ones again.
Could have been a 5 star if the geography knowledge wasn't a bit illogical and the bad characters too politically correct. At first JR knows nothing about London, cannot find a 5-star hotel but suddenly he knows commuting time, down to the minute between different parts of London, while at the same time he doesn't know he has to pay for grocery bags in shops. JR and the author mix up their knowledge too much.**
The bad guys are white as usual and bad blacks are absent (except in real life UK prisons). The best girls are usually of color. The usual addicts, all three of them are pure white.
** [JR remembers] "We checked the map at the station and used the District Line, which had a stop at a place called St James’s Park, which sounded like it might be near some fancy places. Which it was. We came up into the night air and saw signs to Westminster Abbey in one direction and Buckingham Palace in the other. And there was a big hotel right across the street." ---- JR has no clue where he is.
** [JR speaking next day] "But London is big and traffic is slow and we’re all the way on the other side of town. They’ve got to get a little convoy together. That’s ten minutes, right there, even if they’re all on the ball. Then they’ll have to loop all the way north in a big wide circle, or come all the way through the centre of the city. The East End, Westminster, Paddington. Could be we have an hour." --- JR knows London's geography and commuting times by heart.
This time around it’s all business and despite having an attractive partner Reacher’s got no time for romance. An old general who cajoles Reacher into assisting in the hunt calls him ‘Sherlock Holmeless’ in an on-target jab at JR’s wandering lifestyle. Anyway, Reacher drinks a lot of coffee as usual and with an assist from British intelligence manages to neutralize a Serbian gang and take down the leadership of a domestic gang of ruthless thugs and eliminate the ex-Army assassin while leaving a trail of bodies all over London.
There are a few nits to pick; Reacher’s given a new, expedited passport before heading off to Paris. Later on when going to London it’s noted that he gets his first stamp in the new passport but wouldn’t he have gotten stamped in France?
Also, as usual we’ve got some firearms faux pas; Child keeps having Reacher shoving loaded Glock pistols into his pockets which is a great way to ensure an unwanted discharge. I don’t know of any professional who would take such a safety risk. When Reacher and Nice liberate the Glocks from some hoodlums the author takes pains to explain that Reacher selects a model 17 and she gets a slightly smaller model 19. It’s stated the 19 would fit Casey’s smaller hand better but truthfully the grip is just as big around as the 17 to accommodate the double stack magazine, just not as long. Later on when accounting for rounds remaining after they each fired two shots it’s noted that they both had 16 rounds left which is wrong. The model 17 has a 17 +1 capacity and the 19 has 15 + 1 so she would have 14 rounds remaining.
The title “Personal” is derived from the fact that the sniper actually had no real interest in the G8 but was nursing a grudge against Reacher and wanted to kill him. The entire operation was set up by the duplicitous aforementioned general who had his own motives which I didn’t see coming. Things wrap up reasonably at the end and Reacher is dropped off at the nearest interstate on ramp where he puts out his thumb and heads off to whatever awaits him in “Make Me”. Not the most exciting in the series but a decent enough read for a lazy day or two.
Top international reviews
The last 'decent' Reacher book was, IMO, Worth Dying For (no. 15). The others since then have left me feeling disappointed, and more than a little bereft. I missed my favourite action hero. But here he is, back again, large as life (pun intended).
I won't summarise the plot because other reviewers have done that. What I will say is that if you like your Reacher to be involved in fist fights, gun fights, and outwitting people with that oh-so-logical mind of his, then look no further.
I liked the location being moved (briefly to Paris, and then to London/Essex). I think the last time Reacher was in the UK was for The Hard Way, but that was a rural set-up, and it was good to see him in London (with some amusing, tongue-in-cheek observations about British peculiarities along the way). I know that the Reacher we know and love is the one doing his Littlest Hobo routine, moving from one US state to another, and those stories are still my favourites, but I don't think a change does any harm once in a while.
Living oop North, I don't know how realistic the Romford Boys are but really, does it matter? They made for a satisfying gang of baddies, especially 'Little' Joey who, at 6'11", is Reacher's largest adversary since (I think) the huge guy in Persuader. As someone who's never had any training in unarmed combat, nor often finds myself in situations I need to fight my way out of (thankfully), I always find the fight scenes fascinating. Lee Child is the only author I know who goes into such lengthy descriptions of a fight which only lasts for a couple of minutes maximum.
As regards the character of Casey Nice, I liked her. She was well fleshed-out and intriguing. She demonstrated that even CIA agents are human. Lee Child did a good job of keeping their relationship purely platonic/professional (the bit where Reacher has a right old perv at her arse notwithstanding). Nice is in her twenties, Reacher is in his fifties. A sexual relationship between them would have been gratuitous and inappropriate.
The reveal at the ending was a good'un - I didn't see it coming - and things were tied up nicely. All in all, a really satisfactory read. If you've not read a Reacher book before, you won't be disappointed. If you're a Reacher fan who feels he's gone off the boil of late, then take heart from him being back.
All we need now is for the next book to be Jack, on foot, righting wrongs in some dusty, sparsely-populated US state, smashing faces with his elbows and drinking gallons of coffee, for him to be right back on track. Yay!
I was greatly amused by the middle third of the book, how a British author described events, places and so on within Greater London as if he were a foreigner (in this case American), over-explaining some things and making some mild mistakes; for example, I've never heard that Place of Learning being referred to as The University of Cambrige - it's always been Cambridge University to me although I have since seen it called that and perhaps I wasn't brung up proper.
It was nice. To see that. The narrative. Went through a phase. Where sentances were longer. Than Mr Child often writes. I noticed one sentance that went on for more than 25 words so all credit to him.
The fact that I noticed those descriptions and writing style indicates that I was not gripped by the story: as usual there was a significant amount of travelling around, beatings up, and so on. In that regard the book was like an episode of Star Trek; we knew where we were, where we were going to be and how it would end. After all, that's why we buy the books. The ending was all a bit sudden, leaving me with the impression of having consumed fast food and not haute cuisine.
This story gripped me from beginning to end and I hope this book marks a return to form for this series of novels. I don't understand why some people found it so different in feel or tone from the earlier books in the series - to me it was a return to the style of those early books. Yes, there are some implausible things going on (one of the main critiques of this book that I've seen) - but that has always been the case with Jack Reacher - at the climax of "Tripwire" (the 3rd book in the series, published all the way back in 1999) he survives an almost point-blank shot to the chest... so to criticise the implausibility of the plot devices in the newer novels seems odd to me. It's escapist fiction, and as such there will always be things which wouldn't be feasible in "the real world".
As for Reacher shunning his "lone drifter" status to work for the government, why is that getting so much flak? The character has done this on plenty of occasions before - "The Visitor" and "Without Fail" spring to mind. In short, I think most of the criticisms leveled at this book are unfair, and I enjoyed it immensely. It's not "great" literature, but it doesn't pretend to be - it's just a good escapist adventure yarn which will keep you entertained.
Jack is given a mission, he knows how to do it and he gets the job done. Same format as always, same old Jack. The comments are always witty and very often gritty. Jack speaks his mind and he won't be put off by someone trying to kill him. Okay, so maybe the action is toned down a bit but nevertheless it is there and just as exciting as it always has been.
It didn't leave us on a cliff hanger so we are clear that he is still out there and I am looking forward to reading the next one as I know now it won't disappoint.
What's wrong with people? Reading some of the reviews on here, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was a dreadful book whereas, in fact, the opposite is true.
There was a time - somewhere around book 12 or 13 and lasting until around book 16 - when I thought Reacher looked to have run his course. But actually, I feel like Lee Child has revitalised the franchise a bit in the last two or three outings. In Personal, the hard-boiled style is still there and Reacher retains many of the personal traits that came to define him from the first book (the loner who travels with a folding toothbrush, a roll of notes, a precise internal alarm clock and the ability to flatten any opponent in his path).
But with Personal, I think we get a sense of Lee Child concentrating a bit more on plot and substance and rather less on the ability of Jack Reacher to bulldoze his way through any and all opponents. There's a bit more to this than in previous books, I felt. For some fans of the series, that may be the problem, of course: Reacher is a hard-case and it's certainly true to say that the character's brutality (albeit for the right reasons) was what made me a fan of the series once I read The Killing Floor. But head-butting and knee-snapping your way through every encounter with the bad guys only gets you so far and I was quite pleased to have a bit of depth added to our hero and his environment in this book.
Is it classic Reacher? No, and there are one or two moments which prompt an arched eyebrow. But by and large, I thought this was a jolly good read - done in the space of 24 hours on a Spanish beach and balcony.
Thoroughly enjoyable if not quite the full five stars.
Also taking Reacher out of his comfort zone to England where most of the action takes place is ok but then Mr Child treats his descriptions of this country like a tourist map. Lee Child is a British citizen living in America with his wife and son and Reachers' character is built around his life there wandering around the US as a lone maverick of justice. In this book Reacher plays a more advisory role although he does take out the bad guys for the Brits in the end so they can save face if it all goes wrong and Reacher will be arrested as a terrorist when/if it does.
Reachers supporting women are all usually very strong characters but in this case, Casey to my mind is a weak link especially when she keeps asking Reacher if he thinks she's up to the job! Taking pills most of the time Reacher just doesn't seem to be convinced that she will indeed cope but works with what he has. Luckily...spoiler alert...she does save his life in the end.
Having said all that it is a Jack Reacher book and therefore ticks all the boxes for me. I love the character, love the role he plays and love the action he always finds himself in. I would like to read a book which features more about his life in the army, his family and learn where he developed all his skills and insight. Perhaps Mr Child has done that in his new book Make Me?
Thank you Lee never the less.
Having the story set in the UK just doesn’t work at all IMHO and writing “a place called” before most of the towns and places mentioned (presumably the give the sense that Jack Reacher is in a country he doesn’t know well) is just lazy writing.
The story such as it is, which doesn’t seem to get going at all until about three quarters of the way in, is not engaging at all and, if it’s ever going to be made into a film, will need a lot of work.
None of the other characters in the book are interesting at all and none of them seem to have much motivation for their roles.
For an author who was born in the UK, he doesn’t seem to have much understanding of the ways of British gangsters. Since they've all written books as well, this part ought not to be hard to research. The methods Jack Reacher uses to locate the British Godfathers are quite ludicrous. Plus, the idea that one could drive, in the weekly rush hour, from Hyde Park Corner to a location close to the North East part of the M25, reconnoitre a location and drive back in two hours is just daft.
The additional character that comes in right at the end and the final plot twist (one might more accurately say the only plot twist) seemed very much tacked on as an afterthought.
For me this book is a real disappointment.
Lee Child swaps his narration position in these books quite often - I prefer 3rd person, this is 1st person which I find jarring with these books, Nevertheless, it's a typical Jack book. A sniper has taken a shot at the French President and the only sniper known that is able to take that shot has recently been released from prison. A prison that Jack got him sent to so the US government reaches out to Jack to track the sniper down. 2 other men are known to international agencies, men that would have been able to take that shot and Jack has to work with other agencies to track down all three men and find out who took the shot and why.
The story takes Jack to Paris then London where he gets tangled up with a London gang - dodging them as well as the sniper who he knows must be after him and judging the range that he can shoot at, Jack may never see the bullet coming.
What can I say about this book? It's a good read - simple, exciting and ridiculous. I feel that Child needs to start taking Jack in a new direction, after all he's been at this a long time. Maybe that's what he tried with this book - making Jack international, but Jack's better on his home turf, small towns, brutal men. Like the Littlest Hobo - only big.
Unfortunately it proved to be an uninspiring read.
An assassination attempt on the French president was a promising start all to soon lost in what became a wander through the Paris street map and here I was reminded of an earlier effort 'Echo Burning', That also had all the marks of a holiday in the area dressed up as a rather lame story.
Having said that it could have recovered had the story not moved to the UK where even the use of the word GUN causes a high level of incontinence in the British establishment. Here the gangland references were something a time warp sounding more like the 50's and the Kray twins saga than a modern comment on the crime world in the UK.
Increasing frustration was amplified when I was expected to get excited by the introduction of some form of special glass the references to which went on and on.
As to the finale well what finale? To be confronted with the idea that the whole elaborate and frustrating exercise was just to fulfil an old man's ambition, well I ask you.
My final comment was with the female lead, just what was the point of her presence, it seems that Mr Child is not alone in introducing superfluous female characters, designed to attract female readers I suppose, but at least let them have some point. His character could have been removed completely and it would have had no effect on the story.
My repeated advice would be to either go back in time to Reacher's earlier years in the army perhaps Europe in the Cold War or forward to the current spate of Muslim terrorism. The idea of Reacher dealing, in his inimitable way, with Islamic terrorism has a definite appeal.
Hopefully this one is something of an aberration in the never ending tale so I will continue to support the on going story for awhile, but things must get better.
However, this book seemed as though it was either written by somebody else, or it was a very early manuscript which was finished off and published recently.
The book was written in the 1st person whereas all recent books are in the 3rd person.
There research was not quite as good as previous books and there were quite a few inaccuracies in the book which was supposedly written post 9/11. Anybody who travels on the Eurostar from/to Paris/London will know that all luggage is screened exactly like in the airport and it would be impossible to hide a rifle or indeed any sort of gun in a golf bag or other luggage.
In US on the subway the seats may be 'hard benches' but in the UK the tube is soft cushioned seats. Small inaccuracy but relevant.
As anybody who knows Barking Station will know that right outside the station is a Black Taxi Rank which is official.
The plot itself was more on the flimsy side and much of it didn't seem to ring true with other Jack Reacher books.
Perhaps he had a personality change?
I wouldn't say it is terrible, but it is certainly not the best Jack Reacher book I have read.
It isn't as good as the earlier books but then series like these never normally are but overall I did find it a good read.
Only major issue I had with the book was how Reacher dealt with the 'sniper' and the 'giant', it really was an anti-climax and I almost thought that the author had made so much of the chase that he forgot how to actually engage the reader in the final scene where they battled it out. Was a lame ending for me personally and I didn't feel there was much intelligence behind the story but as I say still worth a read especially if you are a fan of the series.
I would add that I got this at the £0.98 deal and my review is based on value for money as well, personally I wouldn't pay too much more for it but at that price is well worth a read.
On the other hand, I enjoyed it, though less than Child’s earlier Reacher books. I like his writing style. I like that these are quick, easy, relaxing reads. And I like that his talent is consistent even when the story flags a little.
If you haven’t yet read any Reacher books don’t begin with this one.