Kemper's Reviews > Die Trying

Die Trying by Lee Child
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bookshelves: 2014, crime-mystery, thriller, vast-conspiracy, military, jack-reacher

Since I despised the first Jack Reacher novel Killing Floor you may be wondering why I read this second entry in this series. It’s all Tom Cruise’s fault.

Yeah, I know the Reacher fans were generally unhappy with Tiny Tom being cast as their hero who is supposed to be 6’5”, but I actually enjoyed the movie adaptation Jack Reacher quite a bit. Believe it or not a big chunk of the credit goes to Cruise who managed to convey the cocky arrogance needed while making it entertaining instead of over the top.* Plus, several people whose book judgment I trust have told me that the series got better over time so I figured I’d give Lee Child another shot. Besides, it could be another opportunity for me to be trolled by the hardcore Reacher fans, and who can resist that?

Jack Reacher is a former military policemen who is the baddest bad-ass who has ever bad-assed. Now retired he wanders around the country off the grid while making a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Reacher is walking down a Chicago street when he sees a young woman with an injured leg struggling to deal with her cane and the dry cleaning she just picked up so he tries to help her out. Suddenly armed gunmen show up and force them into a car. Reacher has just gotten swept up into a kidnapping plot that has huge implications for the U.S. government. The cherry on top of that scene is that Reacher thinks that he wouldn't have any problems taking out the gunman one-handed because apparently he doesn't deem the problem worth dropping the dry cleaning he's holding, but he's worried about stray bullets going into a crowd of people behind him so he decides to play along.

I did like this one a lot more than Killing Floor. It helped that Reacher is thrown into a scenario more fitting of an action hero rather than splitting time trying to play detective. Switching from the first person narrative to third person here is also a big improvement s because rather than the main character telling us how awesome he is we get to either see it or have it relayed from an outsider’s perspective.

The plot still seems like something lifted from an action movie and doesn’t bear much scrutiny even though it gets the job done. I was questioning several points like (view spoiler)

As in the first book at one point Reacher makes an intuitive leap of logic that would make Sherlock Holmes say, “Damn! How’d you pull that out of your ass?” There’s also a sex scene that induces enough eye rolling to cause the reader to make an appointment with their optometrist. (view spoiler)

Still, the flaws here are the kinds of things you’d expect from the genre and not the pure stupidity of the first book. That makes me think that maybe this series is worth a read after all.

* I also give writer/director Christopher McQuarrie a lot of the credit for crafting an entertaining action/crime thriller. McQuarrie also had a hand in two crime movies I love. He wrote the screenplay for The Usual Suspects and wrote/directed The Way of the Gun, one of my favorite movies that almost no one has ever heard of.
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Reading Progress

June 11, 2014 – Started Reading
June 11, 2014 – Shelved
June 13, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-42 of 42 (42 new)

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message 1: by carol. (last edited Jun 15, 2014 10:49AM) (new)

carol. I did find the series more enjoyable as Child got a little farther in--I can't remember if it was book 3 or four that convinced me. I agree, the first two are a little rough, especially in the area deductive reasoning. Later, I think Reacher just becomes more of an action character. Reminds me a lot of mid-Spencer (minus the Susan and Pearl).


message 2: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I'm glad you mentioned that the narrative voice changes, because "seeing" how awesome Reacher is has a lot more appeal to me than hearing him brag. Maybe I'll give this series another shot.

Great review, like always.


Vaelin Book4 is pretty good....he tracks a serial killer with an usual method of killing.....haven't read book 3 though


James Thane Glad you liked it. Let me crawl out onto a limb and suggest that if you liked this one you'll probably like some of the later ones even more. I also gave this one three stars, and while I enjoyed it, I think that most of the others are better.


Vaelin Which ones are you referring to James?

Do you need to read them all in order?


James Thane In fairness, I'm pretty compulsive about reading a series in order, so I'm probably the wrong person to ask this question. I think it helps to read them in order, but in this case, it's probably not as important as it is in other series. Without Fail and Nothing to Lose are two that I especially enjoyed.


message 7: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Jack Reacher is a former military policemen who is the baddest bad-ass who has ever bad-assed.

This is your first legal warning to cease and desist continued use of this expression as I currently have it trademarked as my own personal catch-phrase.


message 8: by Aaron (new)

Aaron I don't know, K. I'm not sure the later books do actually get better. I read Bad Luck and Trouble (#11) and Nothing to Lose (#12) and had the same issues you had with Killing Floor. I still have two borrowed Reacher books that I have no inclination to get into.


message 9: by Jeff (last edited Jun 16, 2014 08:32AM) (new)

Jeff Amanda wrote: "Jack Reacher is a former military policemen who is the baddest bad-ass who has ever bad-assed.

This is your first legal warning to cease and desist continued use of this expression as I currently ..."


Well, he did "borrow" sea cock as well.


message 10: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Jeff wrote: "Well, he did "borrow" sea cock as well.
"


Nothing is sacred to Kemper.


Kemper Carol. [All cynic, all the time] wrote: "I did find the series more enjoyable as Child got a little farther in--I can't remember if it was book 3 or four that convinced me. I agree, the first two are a little rough, especially in the area..."

I've heard that from several people I trust so I hope you all aren't steering me wrong.


Kemper Kandice wrote: "I'm glad you mentioned that the narrative voice changes, because "seeing" how awesome Reacher is has a lot more appeal to me than hearing him brag. Maybe I'll give this series another shot.

Great ..."


Going from first to third person was a huge improvement from the first book, but I've heard that Child uses both in other books.


Kemper James wrote: "Glad you liked it. Let me crawl out onto a limb and suggest that if you liked this one you'll probably like some of the later ones even more. I also gave this one three stars, and while I enjoyed i..."

I will hold you personally responsible if I don't like any other ones I try.


Kemper Aaron wrote: "I don't know, K. I'm not sure the later books do actually get better. I read Bad Luck and Trouble (#11) and Nothing to Lose (#12) and had the same issues you had with Killing Floor. I still have..."

Yeah, I've heard some say that, but then I've got Jim and Carol as well as some others telling me that it does get better.

I don't know who to believe!


Kemper Amanda wrote: "This is your first legal warning to cease and desist continued use of this expression as I currently ..."

Don't you remember that release you signed when I met you last week?

Now that I think about it, you were a little woozy from where that guy hit you in the head with a ketchup bottle...


Kemper Jeff wrote: "Well, he did "borrow" sea cock as well."

Hey, since I encouraged Amanda to read that Travis McGee novel and thus helped along the birth of the 'Sea Cock', I feel like a proud godfather who should be allowed to use it once in a while.


message 17: by carol. (new)

carol. Kemper wrote: "James wrote: "Glad you liked it. Let me crawl out onto a limb and suggest that if you liked this one you'll probably like some of the later ones even more. I also gave this one three stars, and while I enjoyed i..."

I will hold you personally responsible if I don't like any other ones I try.
"


Yes, hold James personally responsible. If you are going to hold any recommendation against me, I'd have to say, strictly speaking, I thought this series echoed a classic bell curve. Slow to start, nice in the middle and it's been in decline. I haven't even read the latest one or two.


message 18: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Kemper wrote: "Don't you remember that release you signed when I met you last week?

Now that I think about it, you were a little woozy from where that guy hit you in the head with a ketchup bottle..."


Damned coca leaf smoothies. Always lead to a rampage. Now I wonder if that guy ever managed to retrieve that ketchup bottle from where I shoved it . . .


James Thane Carol. [All cynic, all the time] wrote: "Kemper wrote: "Yes, hold James personally responsible. If you are going to hold any recommendation against me, I'd have to say, strictly speaking, I thought this series echoed a classic bell curve. Slow to start, nice in the middle and it's been in decline. I haven't even read the latest one or two..."

No, blame Carol; I'm already getting blamed for enough crap. Perhaps you have to be in the right mood for these books, and certainly you have to suspend more than the usual amount of disbelief, but I've enjoyed most of them. I would be a little careful, though, about expressing detrimental comments in this case. You wouldn't want Jack Reacher looming over your desk coughing all day, or standing in the rest room next to you, leaving without washing his hands and then picking though all the donuts in the break room...


Kemper Amanda wrote: " Now I wonder if that guy ever managed to retrieve that ketchup bottle from where I shoved it . . .

The last I saw they had gotten him tied down and were bringing in a truck with some tow chains to try and get the bottle out.


Kemper I think I'll put Jim and Carol on double secret probabtion pending my feelings about future Reacher novels.


message 22: by Lyn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyn I have never read any of these books, but I will need to give them a try, great review


message 23: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Lyn wrote: "I have never read any of these books, but I will need to give them a try, great review"

For the love of tiny Tom Cruise, do not read the first one.


message 24: by Lyn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyn A friend actually lent me two of them, think they are farther down the line


Kemper Yeah, what Jeff said. I hated the first one so much it took me years and the spooky mind powers of Tiny Tom Cruise to give the series another chance.


message 26: by Jeff (new)

Jeff #7 Persuader, the only other one I've read is entertaining, #1 is just a painful read. It's good to know Lee Child learned from his mistakes.


message 27: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Kemper wrote: "Yeah, what Jeff said. I hated the first one so much it took me years and the spooky mind powers of Tiny Tom Cruise to give the series another chance."

...not to mention your down and out in Kansas period.


Kemper Jeff wrote: "...not to mention your down and out in Kansas period.

I'm not entirely sure that era has ever ended.


message 29: by Jeff (new)

Jeff South Dakota's just a box car ride away.


Kemper Jeff wrote: "South Dakota's just a box car ride away."

Let me grab the stick-n-bandana I use to transport my possessions and I'll be on my merry way.


Robert Jack Reacher is a former military policemen who is the baddest bad-ass who has ever bad-assed.

Whether it came from Amanda, or you, or out of some guy's ass, that is a great line. On the action hero note, it's nice to know Tom Cruise does still offer up a certain amount of usefulness.

I've enjoyed this series thus far, but then I can't really be trusted. So it's good to know we have a certain amount of authority on this issue. Mass opinions aren't always the best opinions to follow.


Paula Kalin Just reread this one. Agree with you about Tom Cruise. He might not be 6'5" and 220 lbs., but he did a terrific job in the movie as far as I'm concerned. All the hollywood guys are short anyway. You wouldn't find anyone 6'5" that could have been put in the role. Looking forward to more Reacher movies. I'm a big fan of the series.


Lynne ♠ The Book Dragon ♠ I'm glad I'm not the only one who found Killing Floor to be absolutely terrible. I can usually devour a book in two days. I had to force myself to keep reading this one and it took me five days which is incredibly long for me. It was just so darn boring. Like another poster said I have a compulsion about reading a series in order so I'm gonna give Lee Child a chance to redeem himself with Die Trying. Wish me luck!


Shardangood Same story. Different rating. I was tempted to give this book 3 stars, because this one was sligtly bettere than the first one, and for a short period of time I gave them. Then I changed my mind and took one off. I don't think I'll make the same mistake for the third time, but I'd gladly watch another movie with Tom Cruise based on the books.


Anthony Ramsden Tom Cruise as Reacher covinced you to give the series another shot? Wow.


message 36: by Jeff (last edited Nov 19, 2015 05:02AM) (new)

Jeff Anthony Ramsden wrote: "Tom Cruise as Reacher covinced you to give the series another shot? Wow."

Say what you want about Tom Cruise's personal life, he's a fairly decent if limited actor and his performance in the movie was actually pretty good. If the movie provided a gateway (or re-gateway) to Child's uneven Reacher series, than so be it. I've read good/great books based on reasonably entertaining film adaptations. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Lathe of Heaven, A Simple Plan and The Lincoln Lawyer come to mind immediately.


message 37: by Kemper (last edited Nov 19, 2015 06:36AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kemper Anthony Ramsden wrote: "Tom Cruise as Reacher covinced you to give the series another shot? Wow."

For all the grief he takes (Much of it justified.) Tom Cruise is a pretty good action movie star. The Mission Impossible series is a lot of fun. (Anybody willing to strap himself to the outside of a plane and ride it through take-off to make a cool scene deserves at least a little credit.) And Edge of Tomorrow is a clever sci-fi movie that also manages to be very funny. So yeah, I thought he actually made a pretty good Jack Reacher.

Maybe that's because I wasn't a fan of the series and so didn't get hung up on the physical differences, but I thought he hit a great balance of the cockiness and charm the story needed to sell the concept of the character. Plus, I also give a ton of credit to writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (Who wrote Usual Suspects and also did the last MI movie.) for making the Jack Reacher flick pretty entertaining. Like Jeff said, I liked it enough to give the books another try after I hated the first one so they did something right.


message 38: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher Regarding Tom Cruise as Reacher...he did a decent job. But my pick would be Josh Brolin.


Jaime Guzman This series was highly recommended to me but i didn't decide to start reading the novels until I saw the first Jack Reacher movie with Tom Cruise.


Jimmy Best person to play Jack Reacher should be Paul Bettany. At 6' 3 1/2" and with short blonde hair he would fit Reacher's description perfectly. Give him shoes with 2" heels and fake an American accent and he'd be tailor made for the role.


Carolyn I agree the first book was so boring I could barely get through it. Decided to try second book and it was better. Now on to the third. I hope, as someone said, they keep getting better and better.


message 42: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Jack Reacher by Lee Child and Victor by Tom Wood are the baddest characters I have ever been hooked with.


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