The Seattle Times had a good article about crime thriller author Lee Child a few weeks ago, so I picked up his novel One Shot at the library. It’s a great read.
(For some reason, I tend to fill my summers with crime fiction. That, and the occasional Star Wars novel, though I don’t think I can bring myself to read another one of those. Most of them are simply lame, which is much worse than “bad”. Bad can be good, but lame is never good.)
But yeah, Lee Child, he’s a good writer. He knows how to use the language to good effect, and keep the pages turning. He describes his settings in great detail but it’s never boring, partly because it gives you such a strong sense of place, and also because something in his description hints that the precise location of this bend in the freeway relative to that parking garage will prove to be be important later on.
His hero, Jack Reacher, is big, smart, strong, cool, and almost impossibly competent; and if mishandled, or if the character were more cartoonish (like Remo in the Destroyer series*) this might diminish the suspense. What it does, though, is make the moments where Reacher is outmaneuvered even more startling.
I love this paragraph:
Linsky had no illusions. None at all. The Zec and he were bad people made worse by experience. Their shared suffering had conferred no grace or nobility. Quite the reverse. Men in their situation inclined toward grace and nobility had died within hours. But the Zec and he had survived, like sewer rats, by abandoning inhibition, by fighting and clawing, by betraying those stronger than themselves, by dominating the weaker.
* I read at least 50 of the Destroyer books when I was in high school. I read #30 – Mugger Blood – possibly the worst title for an adventure novel ever – in one hour. True.