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Description : The Hard Way Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money because Edward Lane, the man who paid it, would do anything to get his family back. Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any tool to find his beauti… Full descriptionThe ‘surprise’ factor when reading the thrillers of Lee Child has, it must be admitted, vanished. Most readers who pick up the new book, The Hard Way, will be well aware that this extremely American narrative is, in fact, written by an Englishman. The days when early readers of Child (notably his American fans) would exclaim how amazing it was that Child got all the cultural reference points correct are long gone. And, in a way, that’s not a bad thing–now we can judge the novels purely on their own terms. And if The Hard Way doesn’t initially appear to be quite as impressive as its predecessors, that’s not to say that it isn’t a supremely assured piece of work.
Child’s durable hero is, of course, ex-soldier Jack Reacher. Child’s publishers claim ‘men want to be him–women want to have him’, and there’s no denying that’s a considerable part of Reacher’s appeal. His footloose lifestyle and handy way with the trouble that he’s always encountering are handled by Child with great panache. In some ways, Reacher is the perfect existential hero: he owns nothing or no-one, and he is, in his turn, owned by nothing or no one. He is defined by the actions he undertakes–and that definition only lasts as long as the problem he is involved with. This one has an even wider range than usual, starting on a busy New York thoroughfare and moving to a violent finale across the Atlantic in the sylvan depths of the English countryside, with Jack up against some very dangerous opponents. Interestingly, Child’s publishers describe Jack Reacher in this novel as ‘invincible’, and (ironically) they put their finger on an interesting point in this latest entry. While Jack has always been supremely capable, earlier books have always had a genuine sense of danger–how the hell would Jack get himself out of the latest lethal situation? Here, the outcome seems less in doubt. But this is a minor quibble–Child could not write a bad book if he tried, and all the narrative momentum that propelled the earlier Reacher adventures is satisfyingly in evidence in his latest outing.