Monday, August 15, 2011

The Affair by Lee Child

This is the first Lee Child title I’ve read, but I re-shelve them nearly every day, so I know they’re popular. The Affair is a prequel in Child’s Reacher series, a fairly brilliant move since fans will have backstory on their favorite character and newbies can be drawn in without feeling the need to read sixteen books first.

And drawn in they may very well be! We join Major Jack Reacher as he narrates his apparently dangerous journey into the Pentagon on a mysterious mission in a pre-9/11 world. His referencing this recent past keeps the story in proper context and reminds us that the entire narrative is a memory, albeit a very timely one as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches. In proper cliffhanger fashion, just as we think we will learn Reacher’s purpose for visiting a certain office, the story jumps back to another visit to a different office five days earlier. There Reacher is directed to go to a small town in Mississippi near a Ranger training base to try to covertly discover whether one of the Army’s own is responsible for a grisly murder. Reacher is more than adequate for the job: smart, strong, quick and loyal to the Army, but not blindly so. I found myself liking him even though I was annoyed that he was that good—as, for example, when he narrated the proper way to dispatch six assailants before doing just that. Child manages to keep him from being perfect, but barely.

Since the entire mystery is presented and solved within five days, the action clips along quite quickly and includes movie-sized doses of fights, exposition, corpses, red herrings and sex. I got confused in some of the fight descriptions, and I'm just now realizing I finally learned the who but I'm still a little shaky on the how, but overall I enjoyed the book and will likely read others in the series.

An excerpt of the first three chapters of The Affair can be found on Child’s website. Also on the website is the news that another Reacher novel, One Shot, is due to begin filming on September 27, the same day The Affair is due in stores. Tom Cruise is signed to star. Child is said to be thrilled because he doesn’t want a literal translation. He is certain to get his wish since Reacher is supposed to be a 6’5” dirty blond!

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