Aaron's Reviews > Without Fail

Without Fail by Lee Child
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Jul 13, 10

Read from June 29 to July 12, 2010

While reading this installment of the Jack Reacher series, I remarked to my fiancee that this just might be the best one so far. She lauhed at me, and chided that I have said that for every one that I have read so far. She's right. I probably have.

But, to me, that's the beauty of this series. It's fun to see the progression, not just in Child's plotting but in his writing in general. It would be difficult, I would think, to keep outdoing your own cleverness. That's one of the dangers of writing in this particular genre: eventually, you're going to have to start repeating yourself. Child doesn't repeat himself, though. In fact, this time it seems that his background as a television writer can't help but start rearing its head. Take the finale, for example. It's a cinematic bloodbath that takes place in the middle of a snowstorm. Red blood on fresh virgin white snow would look fantastic in a movie!

This installment is top-notch. The plot is well-paced and finally assembles itself like a finished jigsaw. The action is well-written and not too over-the-top. The suspense is often taut (one sequence, in which the Vice President decides to walk through the streets of D.C. to a meeting unaware that he is a target, is almost Hitchcockian in tone). The character of Reacher himself is more believable this time, too, actually making a few errors that cause a detriment to completion of the case.

This installment's biggest flaws are the same as the previous efforts. Namely, Child doesn't seem to realize how downright creepy some of Reacher's sexual exploits are (this time it's the ex-girlfriend of his late brother). Also, the secretive nature of Jack Reacher sometimes allows Child to make things up as he goes (Wow! Reacher is an expert marksman, too?) and that's kind of like cheating in my opinion. The prime example of this in this chapter is the character of Neagley. If the two characters are so close and have been working together so long, then why hasn't she been mentioned before?

Overall, the flaws of this book are minor and do not affect a reader's enjoyment. A reader does, after all, get whatthey pay for. I think I'm sticking to my mid-read assessment: this is the best installment in this series so far.
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