Die Trying Mass Market Paperback – Jan 11 2002
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Television writer Lee Child's otherwise riveting first thriller, Killing Floor, was criticized by some reviewers because of an unconvincing coincidence at its center. Child addresses that problem in his second book--and thumbs his nose at those reviewers--by having his hero, ex-military policeman Jack Reacher, just happen to be walking by a Chicago dry cleaner when an attractive young FBI agent named Holly Johnson comes out carrying nine expensive outfits and a crutch to support her soccer-injured knee. As Holly stumbles, Reacher grabs her and her garments--which gets him kidnapped along with her by a trio of very determined badguys. "He had no problem with how he had gotten grabbed up in the first place," Child writes. "Just a freak of chance had put him alongside Holly Johnson at the exact time the snatch was going down. He was comfortable with that. He understood freak chances. Life was built out of freak chances, however much people would like to pretend otherwise." Lucky for Holly--whose father just happens to be an Army general and current head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thus making her a tempting target for a bunch of Montana-based extremists--Reacher still has all the skills and strengths associated with his former occupation. And Child still knows how to write scenes of violent action better than virtually anyone else around. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Jack Reacher is in both the wrong and the right place at the same time when FBI Special Agent and daughter of the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Holly Johnson is abducted from a Chicago street. It is the wrong place because Reacher, a former army major drifting around the country, is kidnapped as well. It is the right place because only he has the instincts to foil the complex, deadly plan of the kidnappers, a Montana militia group headed by a charismatic, brilliant, but psychotic leader. Child's tale, very well read by Dick Hill, engrossingly portrays Reacher's efforts to manipulate the captors; the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the FBI, the army, and the White House; and the many unexpected roadblocks thrown in his path. Child devotes too much time, however, to the predictable rantings of the militia. Recommended for public libraries.?Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr., New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In short order Reacher learns that his kidnap companion is FBI agent Holly Johnson who is recuperating from torn knee ligaments and on light duty for the moment. She happens to be the daughter of Joint Chiefs of Staff leader General Johnson and also the god daughter of the president.
After a long arduous journey, in which Reacher declines several escape attempts to protect the injured Johnson, they finally arrive at an enclosure deep in the forests of northwestern Montana. This geographically secure enclosure is the home of the Montana Militia, a para-military neo-Nazi group headed by a 400 pound behemoth Beau Borken. Borken, a paranoid and maniacal son of a California farmer who blew his head off when the government repossessed his farm, is a ruthless murderer who has no use for the U.S. government. He plans to use Holly Johnson's kidnapping to convert his militia into a separate nation!
The FBI gets wind of the plot through a covert operative within Borken's group. Without presidential support they commence an operation to free Johnson. Reacher, of course, while being held prisoner also plots to accomplish the same thing.
Childs' follow up to The Killing Floor, while falling a little short of the intrigue is still suspenseful and a worthwhile chapter in a continuing series.
In this book Jack Reacher is a by-stander grabbed by the kidnappers of a young FBI agent. As the author tells all the critics of coincidenses being at the heart of the novel: @It was a freak chance." Truthuly, I don't like coincidences in books, too, but I can forgive them in a good one. This is one of those. Why did the bad guys kidnap a FBI agent? What is being built in a room in a remote Oklahoma location? And who is the man, who cruelly kills the workers, after they completed building?
Mr. Child wrights with sureness of a seasoned author, and when he takes a rest from plot turns he gives you the action scenes most authors would die trying to reproduce. It is a rare author indeed, who can talk about velocities, weapon parts and all the technical data, and still keeping it exciting.
There are minor points which cost the book one star in my opinion - the main being some things coming out of the blue in the last pages of the novel (these things concern Holly, and I won't say any more of them), but this is really a strong thriller, with a solid plot, hard-as-nails protagonist and the book equivalent of bullet-time scenes of Matrix.
As I said, Reacher's an interesting character. He's in control of the situation almost the whole time, and very controlled himself. He's an excellent shot (and uses this a great deal in the latter part of the book) and a real tough guy. There are, however, some enigmatic parts to his character. He seems to wander the planet without rhyme or reason, just cause he feels like it. There's no hint why he left the army (he apparently was very good at what he did, and didn't stick around for his twenty, which guarantees a pension) or why he does what he does. There's almost a sense of apathy about him at times, which suddenly transforms into concern for the lives of people he doesn't even know. Frankly, this makes me want to read more in the series, to find out what's up.
This is a hard book to review. It's a suspense story, but I didn't feel there was a lot of suspense. That didn't mean I didn't like it, though, mainly because I enjoyed the main character, Jack Reacher. I think I will look for other books in the series.
"Die Trying", the sequel, does not disappoint. It is a fast-paced read sketched out along the same lines as Child's first novel, but in a "Montana militia" setting. Child's writing style, unfortunately, has not improved. He mimics the contrivances of the first novel: coincidental involvement of Reacher in a major crime, the necessary female entanglement, the incredible string of violence that finally leads up to Reacher being able to exit to continue his poor man's tour around the country. That's OK, but there is also a ton of repetitive writing - from the detailed description of every weapon Reacher touches or sees in the book, to the numerous times his captors should have done him in, only to see him elude them, but ultimately lose his freedom (but not his life) instead. Child is also guilty of having his characters repeat phrases over and over, and this appears to be a problem of bad editing.
Despite these broad areas of criticism, I gotta admit that its incredibly hard to put a Jack Reacher novel down. Reacher is resourceful and the author succeeds in capturing your attention with every twist of plot.
So...on to Tripwire, the 3rd in the series!
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The Jack Reacher series is excellent, even though the book is 18 years old the story line could have been... Read more