The Sentinel - Jack Reacher #25
First off, a confession. I am a huge Lee Child fan.
So it is only fitting that the latest Jack Reacher is my first entry in this newly-christened #RecommendedReads blog.
Ever since I first picked up a Jack Reacher in Manchester Central Library, circa 2003, I have read everything he's written. Being on a limited budget, I initially followed my rule of only buying second-hand paperbacks of novels I had previously borrowed. However, by the time I had read the half-dozen or so books already published, I was too impatient to wait for his latest book to hit the library, and certainly couldn't hang around for the paperback to arrive, and so Lee Child became one of the few authors that I would splash out for the hardback, no questions asked.
I introduced the novels to both my father and selected work colleagues, and I figure that Lee probably owes me at least a pint and a chip supper for my contribution to his impressive sales figures.
In terms of the writer behind the words, Lee is one of my favourite authors to watch talk and I have also been fortunate enough to chat with him on a couple of occassions. He is still one of the few writers where I actually get a little tongue-tied when I speak to him, even though he is never anything less than gracious and kind. He even willingly trolled my heavily-pregnant, Coventry City-supporting sister, via our family WhatsApp group, by wishing her all the best and hoping that my soon-to-be-born nephew would grow up to be an Aston Villa fan!
So I was both surprised and saddened when he announced that he would be hanging up his pen (or unplugging his keyboard) and gradually handing over the reins to his younger brother, Andrew (himself an accomplished thriller writer under his real name, Andrew Grant). The plan was to re-invigorate Reacher slightly, bringing him kicking and screaming into the twentieth-century, including introducing him to such exciting innovations as mobile phones!
The Sentinel is the first such collaboration before Andrew takes over completely, and I approached the book with both excitement and trepidation, having watched a couple of online interviews. Andrew claims to be the 'first ever Reacher fan', having read the very first draft of Killing Floor all those years ago, but would it be as good as what went before? Would it 'feel' the same?
Well I was pleased with this first outing, and from the evidence presented here, Reacher is in safe hands. Stylistically, the writing is very similar, with short, punchy sentences, skilfull pacing and Reacher's introspection and inner monologue are handled nicely. As promised, Reacher is taken out of his comfort zone, in a hi-tech thriller that still gives him the opportunity to do what he does best - smart detective work accompanied by carefully choreographed violence when needed.
I'm not going to give away any more of the plot than can be found in interviews or on the jacket blurb, suffice to say that the town that Reacher finds himself in is currently being held ransom by a cyber attack and the somewhat hapless IT tech, Rusty Rutherford, really needs his help...
What I would say is that it is incredibly timely; I don't know how far in advance the book was written, but the themes running through it are very prescient (not Covid though, you'll be relieved to hear).
I heartily recommend this for both Reacher fans and those new to the character, and I'll be buying next year's book as soon as I can!
Paul's Recommended Reads.
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