Persuader by Lee Child
Jack Reacher makes Desperate Dan look like Olive Oil. When Reacher farts, the skies rumble. When Reacher laughs (if ever), hippos and crocs rush to the water. When Reacher brings a woman to orgasm, it registers on the Richter scale and tall buildings tremble. Beady beady, Buck, what a guy!
In this episode – no.6 in the series and first published in 2003 – Reacher sets out to find a man he believed dead. After all, he killed him. It just so happens that the DEA would also like to know more about the resurrected individual and his associates, and so they employ big Jack (who’s 6ft 5in, so how the holy fuck did Tom Cruise get the part?), off the books, to go undercover. With this in mind, they stage an elaborately foiled kidnapping in which Reacher is the casual hero. The young man he saves just happens to be the son of the DEA’s main target. The ploy works and Reacher is in.
From this point on the story is a bit like a James Bond script. Reacher investigates the criminal enterprise he is now a part of. He runs here, sneaks there, all choreographed so that the bad guys don’t catch on. Frankly, it’s so over-the-top and unlikely as to give Bond an inferiority complex. He scales three-storey walls without ropes and fights deadly Atlantic undercurrents and riptides that would kill a shark. He lifts cars and executes any number of villains as his search for a missing DEA agent becomes increasingly frantic. He could probably end world hunger and cure diseases if he really wanted to.
Rebel Voice likes Reacher’s style. He’s a no nonsense kinda guy with no compunction about eliminating the nasties he meets. However, Child continues to lose the run of himself at times. In Persuader, there are holes in the plot big enough for the giant Reacher to leap through whilst carrying a pregnant donkey on either shoulder. For example, he fights an even tougher man than himself, yet never once manages to punch the brute in the throat, a surefire way to beat anyone. However, a short time later he does exactly that to another hood. There are numerous other weak points for your delectation.
That said, Persuader is still an engaging read if you can suspend disbelief for the duration. Pretend it’s set in an alternative universe and you’re laughing. There are plenty of thrills and spills; plenty of extreme personalities; loads of twists and turns. Child is a very capable writer, but it’s his approach to Reacher’s character that lets him down at times. It seems that as the series has progressed, Reacher’s exploits have become evermore outlandish. The series will probably end when Reacher fights off an alien invasion single-handedly and appoints himself Emperor of the Universe. At least then we can look forward to Flash Gordon taking him down. Jack Reacher, as he is, has jumped over the shark some time ago, then presumably went back to wrestle it to death.
Sult scale rating: 7 out of 10. Decent read but kinda like Jason Bourne meets the X-men. Half-a-dozen Reachers and the US military would rule the world (instead of just trying to as they are today, (wink, wink)).