Friday, July 17, 2015

Running Blind

The fourth entry in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series is entitled Running Blind. In this story Jack is just minding his business, eating at his favorite restaurant, when he sees a protection syndicate try to shake down the owner. He jumps in and smacks the baddies about and then before you can say "oh my", Jack is hauled in by the FBI. They good cop/bad cop him and try to pin the murder of several women on him. It seems that a team of case profilers has specifically identified him as the only person who could have done the crime. When he tells him that their logic is wrong, they admit that they just want his help solving the crime. If he doesn't help, they will turn over his girlfriend to the restaurant protection syndicate. So Jack goes back and forth across the country countless times dragging his young FBI chaperone about with him until he solves the crime and nails the real criminal mastermind.

At this point, after having read four books, I am absolutely dumbfounded about how this dreck ever saw the light of day. The best descriptors of Child's writing style are far-fetched, implausible, and inane. Sometimes there are stories that require you to suspend believe because the hero is just so compelling and his style and mannerisms pull you in, but that is definitely not the case with Child's Reacher. It would be one thing if Child acknowledged how thin his plots and his characters were with a bit of a wink to the reader, but he just plows on straight ahead with one absurd premise after another. Far too many times in reading these books my emotions have bubbled to the surface and I have shouted out, "Oh come on!", in my frustration.

You may wonder why I have continued to read the books in this series if they are so ridiculous and poorly conceived and executed. My only answer is that with 20+ books published in this series that typically end up on the best-seller list after their release, there has got to be a reason. If you think that I am some kind of academic, haughty, condescending book snob, I can assure you that I am not. But I know a good story and good technique. This ain't it. I will gamely press on to the fifth book in the series, Echo Burning.