Die Trying by Lee Child (audio)

I fear that it’s beginning to test my powers of creativity to review these Reacher books. For one thing, yes, I admit it, they are rather alike. The general plotline is: Reacher is wandering aimlessly. He stumbles into a situation of danger (or it stumbles into him), generally danger to someone else, a relatively defenseless individual, possibly of the attractive and female persuasion. He becomes involved. There is intrigue, mystery, different bad guys than we originally thought; usually there is an attractive female; there is violence, fighting, skill and cleverness. Reacher wins at all the various contests; there’s a satisfactory ending for the good guys and he rides off into the sunset.

This is so SATISFYING though, I still like reading it. Reacher is such a big cute clever badass, I never tire. And it doesn’t hurt that Child keeps the intrigue intriguing, and suspenseful, and smart enough that the puzzle keeps me engaged right through to the final nailbiting moments. Keep ’em coming, Child, they’re still doing it for me even if there is a formula.

The other reason my creativity is being challenged is the already-evident fact that I just rave about them on and on. So now that I’ve admitted that, I’ll give you the plot and try to keep the raving to a minimum.

In Die Trying, the second book in the series, Reacher stops in the doorway of a Chicago drycleaners to help a young, attractive woman with a crutch who is mid-stumble and about to drop her drycleaning. In the moment of their contact, she is kidnapped at gunpoint by three goons, who see fit to just take Reacher along for the ride. The woman, Holly, turns out to be an FBI agent – quite a good one – with some lofty connections, and they are being driven cross-country for reasons unknown. There is attempted rape, and a crazy right-wing militia bent on establishing a new nation in the Montana wilderness. The FBI and the US military higher-ups are involved; it is unclear to various parties which side other various parties are on; as Raych noted, there’s dynamite. The above formula is followed, but as always, there will be some surprises.

I love it; it’s a very satisfying formula. And here’s the thing: I think I keep saying this, but I think it’s the best one yet! I can’t decide. Echo Burning was my very first Reacher experience, and holds a special place for me because of the South Texas setting. Strangely, I really liked One Shot for all the gun stuff. But The Hard Way has to be one of my top two or three, because of the high stakes and how much I got invested in the little family unit that was at risk, and especially the little girl and the horrible danger she was in… and I really liked Reacher with the lady-friend in that one, too. The small family he forms towards the end was the one I mourned the most, knowing he must move on as always. Worth Dying For also had very high stakes that upped the tension a notch for me. I guess those are my favorites…

So, I do have a problem with always liking “this one” the best. But Die Trying is a new favorite, too! The militia was an interesting twist for a bad guy. There was a psychological-thriller aspect to it. (I don’t want to give away too much.) And, what can I say, I never tire of Reacher’s ability to figure things out quicker than his peers.

If you’re interested, I mildly recommend to you that you start at the beginning of the series, with Killing Floor, but only mildly. If you start in the middle you may find yourself very satisfied – just look at me.

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