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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, December 5

Lee Child, Night School

I'm in the slow process of reading Lee Child’s Night School, his latest Jack Reacher, and the reading is like slogging through a field of molasses, or possibly a rain-drenched South Dakota country road with each step in gumbo. I’ve really enjoyed the previous Reachers, but this one feels too much like something he wrote a long time ago and then decided to throw in here as his twenty-first in the Reacher series. It’s set in 1996, with a much younger Reacher still a major in the military. He’s been selected to serve on a small governmental security unit to figure out why an army non-com stationed in Germany has gone AWOL and is selling something to someone for a hundred million, which in 1996 was a bunch of money. Is it something physical, like one or more nuclear warheads, or is it some kind of intelligence that could be equally dangerous to our nation’s security? And who is he selling it to? That’s what he and the other team members are trying to figure out. Thus, we have Reacher and an old army buddy Frances Neagley (who is tough as nails but beautiful, thus one of the female foils for the occasional Reacher love-making, in this case Dr. Marian Sinclair). Together, they surveil and surveil all over Hamburg, trying to find the AWOL Wiley, trying to spot the messengers who deliver the details of the amount of money to Wiley and then back again to whoever it is that wants to buy whatever it is that Wiley is selling. Are you confused? I certainly am. All this surveillance without much action except for the obligatory fight or two that Reacher has with three or four bad guys. The writing style is strictly Lee Child but the plot is static. The style is a reflection of Reacher’s character—short, declarative sentences with almost no description or literary tomfoolery that go from point A to point B to point C, and so on, as Reacher logically works out what might be going on. He’s like a .45 automatic as opposed to an AK-47: blunt, serviceable, deadly without any frills. And one sentence I noticed that was totally un-Reacher-like, un-Lee Child-like: "Then more gunfire, four rounds, then five, very faint but louder because of the open window, and then more sirens, two different tones, probably ambulances and cop cars, and then a furious volley of gunfire, impossibly fast, like a continuous explosion, like a hundred machine guns firing all at once, like the best firework show the town park ever had, and then there was the muted concussive thump of a fuel explosion, and two more handgun rounds, and then nothing but sirens, the scream of cop cars, the yelp of ambulances, the deafening bass bark of fire trucks, all blending in a howl that sounded more like sorrow than help. A sentence of 110 words, maybe the longest sentence in any of the Reader series. The fights are also typical Reacher, with him figuring out in mathematical precision exactly what each opponent will do and when they’ll do it and how he’ll counter each move. The details of his thinking take up three or four pages; the details of the fight take only four or five seconds. Typical Reacher. And the reader always knows he’s going to demolish whoever he’s fighting, no matter how many of them there are. But that’s it for any action, and that doesn’t do much for the plot except to placate blood-thirsty readers. So, I’ll slog on through the last third of the book, wishing I were already at the finish so I could get on with other, more satisfactory books waiting in line.
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