Jeffrey L.'s Reviews > Persuader

Persuader by Lee Child
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Jul 10, 12

Read from July 07 to 10, 2012

** spoiler alert ** The Jack Reacher books by Lee Child are like crack. The action is fast paced, the writing quick. The novels read like the fast paced action thrillers they are. I've read two of Child's Reacher novels (the first and the second) and while I wanted to read them in order my experience with them is that each is self contained. These are not sequential novels per se: one need not read the previous to understand the current. Begin a Reacher novel and you are instantly brought into a world that every child, at one point, has dreamed of entering. Reacher's world is singular, elusive, wandering. He's a man who roams from place to place, who stays almost completely off the grid, and yet somehow manages to get himself into the most remarkable amount of trouble.

Persuader sucks in the reader from the first page, from the first line. "The cop climbed out of his car exactly four minutes before he got shot." At that moment, fourteen words into the novel, you know you'll only put this book down under extreme duress. I was lucky to have started this book on the final day of my trip to Mexico and had an extra three days before my wife went back to work in order to finish it. Still, reading it was an endurance test that Reacher himself would be proud of.

In Persuader, our everyman hero finds himself working undercover in the house of a rug importer who may or may not be working with a man Reacher thought he had killed ten years before. For the first half of this breathless novel we discover nothing about the man Reacher is seeking other than he had done something very bad during Reacher's time as an army MP. As usual, Reacher is alone amid a sea of unknowns: who is a friend, who an enemy, and how long can he remain hidden in plain sight. Ostensibly he has no more than a week at the most to accomplish his goals. But this is a Lee Child novel. The sands of time will run out much quicker than Reacher would like.

It's a pun for me to say he's lost in a sea of unknowns, because much of the action of the novel takes place in or around a mansion perched on the edge of the cold Atlantic on the outskirts of Portland, Maine. There Reacher has managed to get himself hired as a bodyguard. The action unfolds both slowly and rapidly as Reacher plays both sides of the fence and tries to save the real undercover federal agent who went missing weeks ago while uncovering the secrets of this mansion and the family who occupy it.

It's hard to write too much about the story without giving anything away. I can say that I was completely drawn into the story until about 80% into the book when I was reading only to get the reading done. It was like running my first marathon: the beginning smooth and easy and fun and you feel like you can run forever, but when you hit mile 20 you don't want to pay attention to the scenery anymore, don't want to enjoy the run, you just want the thing to be over. Part of that feeling had to do with a few weeknesses in the plot itself. "They were glaring errors in our thinking and they all came back to haunt me." I can suspend much disbelief in the abilities of Jack Reacher, the tasks he can perform and the ordeals he can survive. But there are other aspects of the novel that are weaker. The bad guy, for example, who smartly had a very brief physical appearance. Quinn is talked about often but rarely seen and by the time we catch our first glimpse of him we already hate him, not for his actions but for the things we're told he has done without being told what those bad things were. In the end we discover the kind of monster he can be when we learn what he has done. And he does it again. Brutality that knows no bounds. Still, his reasons for doing what he did the first time seemed pretty thin. He was a petty criminal who got caught, but the way he is described in the novel makes him seem like the kind of man who has done that sort of thing repeatedly in his life. (Which he might have--perhaps that's the implication I didn't get.)

It's a minor quibble and certainly one that did not detract from my sheer enjoyment of this novel. And learning a bit about the mystery man's past added an extra layer of thrill to this novel. I don't know how much about Reacher we learn in novels three through six but in this one we discover a little of his past and learn a little about what makes the man tick. In the end it is Reacher himself who tells us everything we really need to know about him. "I try to do the right thing. I think the reasons don't really matter. Whatever, I like to see the right thing done."
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message 1: by Bruce (new) - added it

Bruce Foskett Great review Jeff.
Now I will read the book.
B.F.


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