Better Off Dead by Lee Child and Andrew Child

Once could have been a fluke, but twice is solid. The Andrew Child continuation of the Lee Child empire will be okay.

Pretty classic building blocks here. Reacher’s just walking down a road in borderland Arizona when he comes across an unusual scene: an apparent car crash that isn’t what it looks like. (I won’t mention the opening chapter, which contains tricks of another sort.) Reacher tropes: a small town in the grips of an evil it wishes it could shake, but the locals don’t have the juice to deal with forces this great. Our hero stumbles into it, and feels sympathy for certain involved parties (and if one of them happens to be an attractive, super-competent woman of about his age, more’s the pity). Also, cue the timely issue of veteran suicide rates. There are some solid fight scenes and more trickery than I’m used to, actually, in terms of the plot itself: I appreciate this. Look, Reacher novels are familiar, even formulaic, but in the best ways, and in ways that still keep me page-turning and generally manage to surprise me. I was sure I saw the whodunit coming in this one and I was wrong. This remains a comfort read (despite the blood and guts); it’s like coming home. And I am just so terribly relieved that the Andrew Child continuation of the franchise seems to be going swimmingly.

Promotional copy claims that this one “will be the riskiest job of Reacher’s life,” to which I say, come on, have y’all read the previous 25 Reacher novels? It’s okay. I can’t wait for the next riskiest job of his life! Keep ’em coming.


Rating: 7 condoms.

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