My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had to see what all the fuss was about. Jack Reacher is coffee-junkie drifter who strolls into a sleepy Georgia town looking for the grave of an old bluesman. He’s also a retired Marine MP, so when the cops converge with riot shotguns to frame him for murder, he convinces them he’s not the killer, and decides he’ll solve the crime himself. He charms a hot policewoman, and when the bad guys play rough, he churns through them like a harvester. The story is good, light fun. The novel is now 15 years old, and we’ve come to appreciate shorter, faster thrillers, but this one still holds up. Oh, there’s one coincidence to swallow when we find out who the murder victim is, but Reacher is an amicable hero and I like a novel that admits killing people is not all that difficult with the proper weapons and inclination. The tricky part is getting away with it. When it comes to unstoppable killing machines, I prefer Joe Pike, but Reacher is a good read if you know what you are getting into. And to get into the movie discussion, Tom Cruise is a horrible choice. I imagined Reacher as a big blond chunk of American prime for the ladies (and 10% of the men). That dude playing Captain America should have fought for the part.
Verdict: This is a good story that feels a bit dated and unsure of itself, the shaky start of a series that eventually defined its thriller genre. If I’d read it in ’97, I’d give it another star. The teaser for the 2nd Reacher novel, DIE TRYING, felt like a huge leap forward. I’ll be giving it a try soon.