Past Tense (Jack Reacher, #23) Past Tense question


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Simplistic charachters like Reacher
anonymus invisible anonymus (last edited Feb 22, 2020 03:00AM ) Dec 02, 2018 12:40PM
We all know about Reacher's simplistic life-style also emphasized in Lee Child's interview.

Why we like Reacher's books because is more focused on how an everyday like hero lives his life following simple, practical rules, plain clothing, practical thinking, public transport, walking, no baggage WITHOUT a lot of macho "I'm ex special-forces, SAS, super-hero, ex-FBI agent with military and martial arts background and super-trained athelte.....etcetc..." style like many of the books in this genre(okay there are some exception also in Lee Child books but most of them don't have this touch).

Do you know other books/characters similar to Reacher in that regard. Simplistic, everyday type person NOT a super-special-forces-athlete-fbi-agent....

A good example would be Travis McGee from MacDonald(The Deep Blue Good-By. Any other examples you know about maybe?
Seems like Randy Wayne White who inspired on David MacDonald is also painting a similar character Doc Ford.

(Disclaimer: I know the macho fbi-agent-super-athlete generalization is a bit subjective, some people may like that, so please don't be offended if I touched on some of your books toes :-s, that wasn't my intention. Thanks for your time and ideas.)
(Disclaimer 2: In case my question a duplicate, don't worry about it, sometimes we need a fresh start, I've been researching about this topic, but so far haven't found a good answer.)



Donald Westlake writing as Richard Stark fascinated me with his "Parker" books. Very pared down to the essentials.
I enjoyed Gregory McDonald's Fletch books because of the character's range. The movie was just silly.
I confess I grew up on Rex Stout, too, beginning at age 10.


Travis McGee is one of my all-time favourite heros; that series was a forerunner/ model for quite a few others.
I love this series so much because of the rich local colour it depicts (most of the series listed below do that, too), and because of the evolved, complicated character of McGee (and his side-kick).

I'm just going to list authors and series-characters (American only) in a similar vein ("people with other regular jobs getting to be detectives by chance a lot", and "normal people becoming detectives by chance") for you, and leave you to research whether you might like them.

Maybe you fancy some localities more than others, therefore I'll also tell you where the series mainly take place.

I read all of the listed, and liked all of them a LOT. Sadly, most of these authors stopped writing series and went for stand-alones; maybe because these carry more prestige...

One more tipp: It's much better to read these series in the sequence that they were written; all of the characters evolve more or less.
Here we go:

Rick Riordan, Tres Navarre (Texas)
Robert Crais, Elvis Cole (California)
Randy Wayne White, Doc Ford (Florida)
Dennis Lehane, Patrick Kenzie (Boston)
Harlan Coben, Myron Bolitar (New Jersey)
Laura Lippman, Tess Monaghan (Baltimore)
Dana Stabenow, Kate Shugak (Alaska)
(James Lee Burke's Robicheaux fits perfectly in this list, of course.)

I wish I could read all of these for the first time again: They are so different and so enjoyable...


Detective Dave Robicheaux a very non-descript, down to earth, guy, who lives in the bayou outside New Orleans, is just your type of guy.
Created by James Lee Burke (whose fame at writing "procedural crime novels" precedes Lee Child, and who Child himself admires, Detective Robicheaux id a tough, honest, but flawed man - highly intelligent with awesome deductive powers. He will quickly become someone you admire.

Unlike Child, Burke's novels are rich with descriptive passages. He is a true wordsmith, painting a picture of the deep south that is both magnificent and indelible and will never feel to you like "filler".

I love Child's simplicity; both in his characters and his narrative. But if you've never read James Lee Burke, you're in for a treat. Here's some of his stuff (reading in order helps, as the characters do grow and evolve, but it's not necessary). I started with Black Cherry Blues (also a movie).
Black Cherry Blues (1989)
The Neon Rain (1987)
Heaven's Prisoners (1988) (and movie)
A Morning for Flamingos (1990)
A Stained White Radiance (1992)
In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (1993) (and movie)
Dixie City Jam (1994)
Burning Angel (1995)
... and many more !


The character of Bruno Johnson in the Dave Putnam series of books. Tough as nails, and a super hero without a cape. Just a plain cop on his beat, not looking for trouble, but trouble seems to find him.


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