I’m deeply distrustful of authors whose books appear on the tiny book rack at my local Walgreens . You know them: Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson and his “co-writers,” Dean Koontz.
Now I’m scared that I’m an elitist asshole because I’ve discovered Lee Child, another habitue of cheesy book racks everywhere, to say nothing of Hudson Books in airports. To quote Wikipedia, he started out in the tv biz , lost his job and moved on. His birth name is Grant.
“Grant joined Granada Television, part of the UK‘s ITVNetwork, in Manchester as a presentation director. There he was involved with shows including Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, andCracker.” (I still weep thinking about “The Jewel in the Crown.)He moved to New York City and started to write action novels. His series protagonist is Jack (None) Reacher , an ex MP Major. He’s six five, muscular and not big on nuance. He travels the country with no kit except what can fit in his pockets: an expired passport, an ATM card, a roll of bills and a folding toothbrush. He hitch hikes, and buys new clothes every three days because he fears the domestic delights of a house and a washer. I think I may be the first person to call him an existential hero.
Reacher is smart and invincible. There is — and this is the comfort factor in these scary books — the reality that Reacher will, every, every time, mangle, with his bare fists, the Bad Guys. He’s a modern cross between Sir Galahad and a mendicant monk.
Child writes a smart plot. Although he’s made huge progress as a writer, he’s no Elmore Leonard. But he’s learned St. Elmo’s greatest commandment: “Leave out the stuff people don’t read.”
The Tom Cruise Reacher movie is a bomb and I’m glad. The physical miscasting, for a start, is ludicrous. When you’ve been hooked into Reacher’s strange mind, you know it’s not going to be the basis of a Tom Cruise thriller. Totally lame.
So, the Reacher novels have got on to our reserve list at the Warrenville Library, along with Tess Gerritsen and Steve Hamilton. Maybe it time to read Nora Roberts? Nah.