Monday, April 14, 2008

Author of the Day: Lee Child



Jack Reacher is a prototypical hero. He is big and strong and smart and he drifts around solving unsolvable problems. He doesn't need anything besides his folding toothbrush and a little folding money. (Confronted with the reality of our post-9/11 world, Reacher actually started carrying a passport and an ATM card in later books -- a stumbling block for loyal readers.) He can calculate the trajectory of a bullet. He can kill a man with his thumb. He's cool.

I have read all but the latest of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books.

The books in publication order are:

Killing Floor
Die Trying
Tripwire
Running Blind
Echo Burning
Persuader
Without Fail
The Enemy
One Shot
The Hard Way
Bad Luck and Trouble
Nothing to Lose
Gone Tomorrow
61 Hours
Worth Dying For (reviewed here)
The Affair

NOTE
Last updated April 19, 2012.


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Review of the Day: The Shell Seekers

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher is a plot-driven family saga centered around Penelope Sterne, daughter of an artist and mother of three unlikable adult children (well, two are outright unlikable; one is supposed to be admirable but is singularly off-putting). Penelope, now 64 and suffering from a weak ticker, putters in her English garden, ponders her past, and considers how and when to dispose of the few of her father’s now-valuable art works in her possession.

The story moves right along at a bracing clip, through lengthy detours into Penelope’s childhood in Cornwall, Britain’s WWII home front, and the younger daughter’s sojourn in Ibiza. It is an enjoyable read, well-deserving of it’s decades of popularity.

Only in retrospect does the novel disappoint. The main weakness is a lack of character development. The characters spring fully-formed onto the page. The “good” people are all generous, hard-working, independent, and bluntly forthright. (They are also startlingly unsentimental.) The “bad” folks are greedy, vain, self-centered, and silly. None of them change, either individually or in relation to the others. When the narrative reaches its chronologically natural ending, resolution of the various threads is brusquely efficient, but not convincing or satisfying.

Overall, it is an entertaining but unfulfilling read.



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