When you enter the world of Jack Reacher, Lee Child's indomitable ex-MP, you never know what to expect. You can certainly expect exciting action scenes, plenty of fisticuffs, and a large dose of graphic violence. "Tripwire" is no exception. The book is an excellent read. Reacher finds himself caught up in the investigation of a star helicopter pilot missing in action in Vietnam and assumed dead. The boy's parents, in grief for thirty years, send a PI to find Reacher, only to have the PI killed hours after meeting with Reacher. From that point on, the plot twists and turns, always sustaining your interest. Although the ending is easily predictable from the start, it's fun riding along with Child on the inevitable denouement. Hook Hobie is an extremely nasty villain and presents a formidable challenge to Mr. Reacher. His henchman are likewise pretty despicable. Some of the supporting characters are really well written, particularly the victimized Marilyn Stone and her real-estate agent friend, Sheryl. Marilyn displays quite a bit of spit and vinegar and loyalty to her milktoast husband, and plays a hard game with Hobie, for a while. Sheryl, meanwhile, displays a tremendous amount of loyalty to her friend.
A great book but some additional points of concern or discussion. I have found it hard to accept Jack Reacher's obvious inability to function "normally" in the world. A drifter at heart, he doesn't seem to want to belong in anyone's world----he falls in love at the drop of a hat, but is not willing to make any commitments, always seeming self-centered in his inability to be "tied down." He doesn't have a job, he's never had a home of his own, and he avoids reality as it were a plague. While this makes for a dynamic and "legendary" type of hero, it leaves Reacher the man hollow and almost apathetic. Finally, in "Tripwire," his romance with Jodie awakens Reacher to these facts and as the book comes to a close, he starts acting like a human being, thinking of settling down, having a house, etc. I'm sure "Running Blind" will pick this up and hopefully develop it. Jack Reacher is a great character, and I like him, but if he becomes a little more human, it will make him even more likeable.
Disappointments: What happens to Marilyn, Chester, and William Curry. They are pivotal victims in the climactic scene, and at its resolution, we don't know what happens to them. The Stones part in the novel are integral to the plot, and we come to care about what happens---especially to Marilyn. This lack of resolution is downright criminal, Lee!
Also, where did Hobie get his contacts in Hawaii and Hanoi? It's never explained---they just exist. Hobie doesn't seem to have a "worldwide" scam going, just a local one.
And what about Tony, his mysterious "is he gay?" aide? What is their relationship, and how did it begin? Tony intimates he's known Hobie for a long time, but there's never any connection between the two. Tony obviously cares a great deal for Hobie, but there is no development of this relationship.
Maybe minor quibbles, but I feel valid ones.
At any rate, if you've followed Jack Reacher this far, as I have, you will undoubtedly want to read "Running Blind," which I will start soon!
on September 15, 2006
Unlike most people, I found Lee Child and Jack Reacher only a short while ago and after reading the two most recent Reacher novels, decided to go back and read the earlier ones. This was the first of the earlier ones I have ventured through and I must admit that the ones I read previously were way ahead of this one. The Reacher character is still there. Tough, resourceful and finding trouble at every turn.
However, the story dragged at first as one tried to figure out how two disparite story lines would finally connect and then as it picked up only some of the story was completed.
It's still well written for what is there but this is another author that has clearly gotten his act together as time has progressed. I am not put off however. and will continue to read the earlier efforts and I would recomend that to anyone who has found and enjoyed the character.
This is the third novel by Lee Child featuring his tough guy hero, Jack Reacher, the previous two being DIE TRYING and KILLING FLOOR. Jack, once a hard-boiled Major in the U.S. Army's Military Police, has been (in all three novels) drifting from here to there to no place in particular, and getting enmeshed in unusual situations that force him to fight assorted scum. His modus operandi makes him a worthy drinking buddy and soulmate of the Clint Eastwood 1970's screen character, Dirty Harry.
In TRIPWIRE, Jack inherits from Gen. Leon Garber (ret.), his former Army commanding officer recently deceased, the task of tracking down for an aged and ailing couple the fate of their pilot son, Victor Hobie, still MIA many years after the Vietnam war in which he flew helicopters. Perceived by the reader, but unbeknownst to Jack, Hobie is now a sadistic, extremely vicious, burn-scarred amputee now operating in the Big Apple as a high end loan shark to financially desperate CEOs. (Or is he?) His specialty is torturing and killing the family members of his debtors should they default. One sweet teddy bear.
Having read the previous two Reacher yarns some time ago, my memory may be suspect. However, I recall the action in those two being more constant and sustained. In TRIPWIRE, the plot develops with more serenity (such as it is), with the tension for the reader being the knowledge that Jack and Hobie will eventually face off against one another - the classic confrontation between the Guy Wearing the White Hat vs. the Guy Wearing the Black Hat. The only thing lacking is the famous Eastwood squint.
Being sufficiently Neanderthal to have loved all of the Dirty Harry films, it's no surprise that Reacher has swaggered into my pantheon of fictional heroes. Child's fourth thriller in the series, RUNNING BLIND, is definitely on my Wish List. However, I remain puzzled and just a little disappointed that Jack, at 38 and supremely self sufficient, remains without a clue when it comes for him to do his ... laundry. I'll bet even Dirty Harry knew how to press and fold a shirt - those were the days when my heroes were made of iron.
Yup... completely and totally hooked... I just finished up the third installment in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child... Tripwire. And they seem to keep getting better.
Reacher, an ex-Army MP and drifter, is now in the Keys digging swimming pools by hand. No plan, no direction, it's just where he is at this point in time. His routine starts to crumble when two separate parties from New York show up looking for him, and he doesn't have a clue as to why they should need to know. He lies to both of them about who he is, and one of the individuals turns up dead a few hours later. Reacher decides his time in the Keys is up, and heads north to find out who's looking into his life. It ends up being the daughter of an Army general who was almost like Jack's dad. Running parallel to the story is another thread involving a CEO of a crumbling company and his attempts to keep it going by borrowing money from "Hook" Hobie, an amputee from the Vietnam war who takes great pleasure in using his prosthetic hook to inflict damage on those who do not pay up on time. Hobie is alerted that something from his past is starting to encroach on his current life, but he doesn't want to flee until he finishes the deal with the CEO. He also needs the daughter of the general that Reacher has hooked up with. Jack needs to keep the daughter safe, fulfill a promise to an elderly couple who's son is listed as missing in action, and figure out if he's ready to start settling down a bit...
I think what I like most about this series is Reacher's "humanness". It's far too easy to paint a main character as some "can do no wrong" superhero who always makes the right decisions. While Reacher is definitely a force to be reckoned with, he's also like a large child who hasn't figured out how to live in today's society like everyone else. The writing is terse and the story is pretty tight, and the total convergence of all the plotlines doesn't happen until the very end. I was definitely unsure as to how it was all going to resolve, and I really couldn't put the book down. This is some of the best recreational reading I've had in a long time, and I'm glad I have another five or so books left in the series before I'm up to date. Highly recommended...
on February 11, 2013
Jack Reacher can be great fun to read about. But starting from the beginning -- reading his books chronologically may be a bad idea.
I enjoyed #1, and #2 (a little less so). This book -- Reacher #3 -- is heavily in need of editing.
Child has loaded down his narrative with long descriptive passages that he mistakes for story telling. One passage describes two villains driving out of New York City's Westside and up north on Route 9. The detail is mind numbing.
I hope he hired an editor for later Reacher epics (and I use the term "epic" intentionally to describe his description fetish).
At another point he stuffs in a long, excruciatingly detailed passage about how a one-armed man gets dressed. And there are dozens of these dilatory passages in this novel.
A pair of scissors or a good cut-and-paste session might easily have removed one-third of his verbiage and left a tense story behind.
Beware -- if you read this novel bring along your speed-reading skills. You'll need them to cruise through 35 percent of the text.
Enough already. And a question: What are his best yarns?
on July 30, 2013
At this point the Jack Reacher Formula is very, very well worn. In each novel he has a love interest. In each novel his primary concern is worry about being 'tied down'. Being tied down is the primary conflict between Reacher and his heroine-of-the-novel. The bad guys are all exceptionally cruel, brutal, and utterly lacking in conscience... but that gives them no depth. Real people aren't that shallow, not even bad guys. Real people have delusions, loves, hates and a lot of irrationality - especially the bad guys. And no matter how 'bad' a real bad guy is, he always has some internal justification why what he does is 'right' - maybe not 'good' but certainly 'right'.
As a 24 year Army Veteran my opinion is that Child habitually gets a lot of the militaria wrong. The past he supposes for Reacher is more like that of a French Legionnaire of the 19th century, possibly a 19th C British soldier with regards to the 'where' part of the travel. Officers' are rarely out of supervision. Majors are never the direct subordinate of Lieutenant Generals (that's what Colonels are for), and most certainly never, ever, ever, on a first name basis - even in private. Child gets the promotion schema all wrong - and self-contradictory to boot. The most any personnel connection with power, or individual brilliance can get you is promotion 1 year early - because the process is bureaucratic. If you have a personnel file like Reacher does, you don't get cut from service without a voluntary resignation and a lot of paperwork; the file the reduction board would see would be the same the promotion board saw. Sergeants do not do officers' laundry. In fact no one who ever went to the field or any basic field problem would ever fail to know how to do laundry. And officers ranking higher than lieutenant almost NEVER live in the BOQ (Bachelor Officer's Quarters). But if you're not wading in military experience these inaccuracies probably won't distract much.
It appears Child has never struggled with rent or travel and hotel bills. Every military guy eventually knows the following because of TDY (Temporary Duty < 180 days) and PCS (Permanent Change of Station > 180 days): Mortgages are cheaper than rent; Rent is cheaper than a hotel; Motels are cheaper than hotels; buddying-up makes all the above cheaper, and camping, squatting, and mooching are practically free. They also know this: Clothes are expensive - even 'cheap' WalMart/KMart/etc clothes. And if you do physical labor your clothes will be ripe in an hour. If you do physical labor and don't wash your clothes or keep changes, then no one will let you into a clothing store because your stench will drive the other patrons away. They also know this: Clothes saturated with sweat will literally rot off your body and fall apart in a few days, and you can wash your clothes the same way you wash yourself - and at the same time. So, while Child describes these of Reacher's characteristics as 'weird' they're not. They simply don't make sense. Buying clothes every day would cost Reacher twice his lodging and at least 1/3d more than his food. Oh... and people who wander around as Reacher does don't buy bottled water much. The markup is too high. They get a water bottle and refill it from the tap - repeatedly. People who camp or actually do 'just wander around' could tell Child this. But if you are urban or suburban, you may not find the reality that 'wandering around, seeing the country' involves a lot of camping by necessity to be a distraction.
No, the main problem is that at least the first three novels are the same book. The characters are shallow. The bad guys are cardboard cutouts. The good guys are so spineless and non-reactive that a guy wants to cheer when they earn their Darwin Awards. When Reacher finally gets his hands on the 'Big Bad Boss Man' it is never much of a challenge. If there's no challenge then where's the beef?
Reacher's love interest is always beautiful, intellectually smart, but rather gutless and helpless. And Reacher always 'loves' them enough to die for them - but not enough to live for them. He is so afraid of commitment that he always ultimately runs away. Well guess what? There's a word for that: Infatuation - a mental boner without commitment, and that too is shallow. It gets hard to get through a book if you don't identify with the characters. It is hard to identify with cardboard cutouts.
By the way... where are Reacher's buddies? His rivals? At 13 years commissioned officer service Reacher would be a very, very new Major, with two years in rank at most. At about 18 he'd be a Lieutenant Colonel. 17 years if he picked up below the zone. If you work in a community that long you'll have a trainload of friends, rivals, and associates. If that time involved a lot of PCS moves (which come every 18-36 months) then he'd have friends, associates, colleagues, and rivals all around the world. Where are they?
on May 30, 2015
... or a "World Class Psychopath meets Harry and Sally who Copulate (again and again) After Years of Repressed Incestuous Feelings Towards One Another". Okay - That's a little too long for a book title. But, the point being that "Tripwire" is a short story once if you skip over the cheap 50s style detective novel mix of superfluous gore, blood, and sex. I don't consider this in the same class as Lee Childs' later novels, such as "The Hard Way", "One Shot", or "Personal". This novel's mental level is several IQ points lower than Lee Childs' earlier Jack Reacher novels - But at least you find out how his chest muscles stopped an anemic 38, and the resulting scar, which is referenced in several of the later novels.
The monotonous gore and sex is even more evident if you __read__ the book (I also own the Kindle version). One will keep turning the pages if only to find the buried story of a psychopathic Vietnam veteran, who is unfortunate enough to cross Jack Reacher. The story is edgy due to the system, which the villain has entrenched over the past thirty years. The story is set between late 90s - a couple of years prior to 9/11/2001 (The World Trade Towers is were the story climaxes).
"Tripwire" fails to explain why the army didn't incarcerate the psychopathic lunatic years ago - Gross army incompetence? Possibly. A dog tag swap wouldn't have nixed a dental record check. One also assumes that Jack isn't too interested in the inherited house and land (received in the written will of his deceased good friend), NOR in that same good friend's daughter, with whom he has repeated trysts (before, after, and during - once he, and she, overcomes their incestuous feelings), because Jack is __totally__ unattached in followup novels. One assumes Jack dumps both with equal aplomb. So much for distractions and attributing to a hero the feelings of a toad. At least the real Hobie is a hero. You could have wrapped the story up better, Lee.
The audio edition suffers because Dick Hill __IS NOT__ the narrator - Which is sad, because Dick could at least have added some vocal dynamics to make the listening more enjoyable. I had listened to the "Killing Floor" and "Tripwire" years ago, and although the two novels are at the same reader/listening level, I found "Killing Floor" much more enjoyable with respect to listening. I am now listening to "A Wanted Man", which I've had on the shelf for awhile - Now that is five stars.
on July 2, 2013
OMG! If Lee Child described the villain in excruciating detail one more time, I was going to scream. Also, what is it with Jack Reacher wearing the same clothes day in, day out-- I am truly puzzled about the message the author is trying to convey. I get it- that he wants to show that Jack is not burdened with the possessions that most of us have, but Reacher just comes off sounding like a homeless person. And the so-called mystery? Please! This is right out of "twist ending class 101". There have been so many TV mysteries with this same twist. Don't waste your money!
on May 24, 2014
Hard to believe this was written by the same author as the first Jack Reacher novel. Reacher, a West Point graduate comes across as an unsophisticated,lecherous and unworldly not-so-superhero. The first Jack Reacher was a terse, well written book that was hard to put down . The second was a farce and the third is a sloppy book that was hard to finish. I thumbed through many pages that should have been edited out; especially the maudlin romantic river about hands on the wall, does she/he love me ? Ugh! Makes my skin crawl. No mo a dis. Jack! You're on your own.
on December 21, 2014
I still stand by my comments, first published about book 4:
The Jack Reacher series is at the top level of this genre. Seldom do I go over $0.99 for my non technical reading, but for this series I bite the bullet and pay top dollar. A difficulty I have with these books is finding a good place to put them down. I find myself staying up too late, just to finish one of these books. When they last only one or two days, they "bust my recreation budget." Too, they infringe on time I should spend doing other things.
Reacher, the hero of the series, is one of the most likable I have found. As I have a strong "Don Quixote Complex," I relate to his ideal of righting wrongs, protecting the weak and killing bullies.
In every story he beds a beautiful, strong, smart woman. He spares us most of the details, which is appreciated since I would rather experience them myself than read about them. Lee Child's women characters are feminine while possessing the qualities which, coming from a long line of capable feminine forbearers, I admire in the weaker sex. (These characteristics have bread true for the next two generations, and show signs of expression in my Great Granddaughter.)
Don't read these books looking for some great literary masterpiece. There is no great wisdom shared, other than the need to right wrongs, protect the weak and destroy bullies. They are "pot-boilers," but good entertainment.
This applies to at least the first 7 books in the serries.