Friday, August 7, 2015

Echo Burning

If you go into a cow pasture day after day and see a big old herd of cud-chewing bovines, then you should not come to expect that on your next visit there will be anything else upon that field but cows as far as the eye can see. To expect anything else would not be a reasonable expectation. I say this because after grinding and grumbling my way through the first four books in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, it would not be reasonable for me to expect anything different in the fifth book of the series, Echo Burning. I groaned and complained throughout the first four books. I groaned and complained throughout the fifth book. You may ask why I am continuing on with a series that I have not thought kindly of, and that would be a fair question. I think the answer is mule-headed stubbornness mixed with a touch of incredulity. I mean, how can a series that now consists of 25 entries, where each new entry routinely ends up on the "best sellers" list, be so inane, so contrived, so banal? What is it about these works that pulls so many readers in and keeps them coming back for more? Also, I purchased the first 6 books in the series based on some reviews that I read and, darn it, I will see this through, even if I groan my way hoarse.

In this story, Reacher gets into a rumble in a bar with a loud-mouth, drunk off-duty cop. The next morning, the cop and some of his buddies come to arrest him and exact some revenge. Reacher slips away before they find him and sets off to thumb a ride to get out of Dodge (or in this case Pecos, Texas). He is picked up by a young Latina named Carmen Greer, but this meeting is not by chance from her point of view. Carmen was actually looking for a beefy drifter type to kill her abusive husband who is about to get out of jail after spending a year locked up due to unpayment of taxes. Reacher, instead of getting the heck away from her, falls hook, line, and sinker for her spiel. She takes him to her home in Echo, Texas and there he meets her husband's racist, redneck clan of stock characters. When Carmen's husband is released from jail, he is murdered in short order, and all fingers point toward Carmen, especially after she confesses. But Reacher does not buy a bit of her confession and before you can say, "huh?", the local law enforcement folks have turned over the investigation to the drifter Reacher without so much as a, "By the way, who the heck are you?". Along the meandering, monologuing path that Reacher takes, he uncovers a deep plot buried within the past of the U.S. border patrol. Now, onto the last story in my fictional purgatory, Reacher book #6, Without Fail.