Worth Dying For
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347 of 362 people found the following review helpful
This is a very enjoyable, vintage Reacher adventure. It starts well, slows a bit in the middle, but then picks up with a high body count towards the end. The plot is pleasingly complex and all the strands are sewn up neatly and logically by the end.

It kicks off shortly after 61 Hours. Yes Reacher is alive, although you won't find out how he survived until about a third of the way through. This is a standalone story rather than a continuation of the plot in the previous book.

Reacher is in rural Nebraska. He's on his way to Virginia and only intends to stop for a night, when he is drawn into what initially looks like a domestic dispute but ends up being something much bigger. The town is under the control of a very unpleasant family called the Duncans, who own a transportation company. The local farmers are dependent on the company and therefore live in fear of them. The Duncans have an important shipment coming in, which has been delayed. This is causing problems for their customer and for the customers of their customer. Consequently a food chain of increasingly nasty villains gets involved, with lots of double crossing and mind games going on. Tied into all this somehow is the mystery of a local girl who disappeared 25 years ago and whose body has never been found.

The setting adds a lot to the tension. Reacher needs to hide in a flat and empty landscape where a man can be seen a mile away, with the locals unwilling to help a stranger.

There is one section in the middle that reminded me of Nothing To Lose, with its endless trudging around small town Colorado in the dark, but this lull was temporary and the momentum picked up quickly again. I also liked the way that Lee Child incorporates Reacher's physical limitations. Reacher is no genius this time around: his deductions are logical and he misses a couple of pretty obvious tricks. All in all, it's another nail biting installment in a terrific series.
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150 of 169 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2010
I get the feeling like I'm the last person to know; I bought this book still thinking that it would be a shocking resolution to the cliff hanger ending of the previous 61 Hours.

You see I was hooked into the possibilities: could Reacher actually be dead? OK I really doubted it but more likely - would everyone's favourite 00-bearman be crippled with burns? At any rate I thought the pundit prediction that his female counterpart running Reacher's old unit would play the major role of this novel was spot on.

But no. Even just reading the blurb will tell you that Reacher is still functioning. I'm pretty sure Childs plays on our expectations, having Reacher described as "hurting" but at the end of the day he can still kick ass without flinching so one wonders why even bother trying to fool us into thinking Jack Reacher is mortal?

Instead of playing the awesome sequel card, Childs just introduces us to another Jack Reacher adventure - this time versus the Duncans an evil family of hick/pervert/smugglers who control a local farming community with extreme violence and a gang of retired football players (most of whom are named Brett). If that isn't slapstick enough for you, the Duncans answer to a the Italians, who answer to some other bad guys, who answer to some Iranians, who answer to the Saudis - all of whom send a couple of guys to keep an eye on the others, resulting in a small town full of organized criminals who comically murder each other (or get their hearts punched out by Reacher)

While the story is fairly run-of-the-mill for Childs, the prose is solid, and the action is well planned. The drama is somewhat limp as the main characters are nowhere near as memorable as in 61 hours and other Reacher novels, and without attachments the story merely becomes a blow by blow account of Reacher pounding on the baddies, and dressing down the cowering townsfolk.

Still, Child leads the field in thriller writing, and Worth Dying For is a prime example of his brillance, I think as an author not living up to your own works is forgivable when all your works are leagues ahead of everything else in the genre.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2010
Great fun!

Not only is this good vintage-style Jack Reacher, it is among the stronger books of this excellent series. The writing is tight, the pacing is excellent, the characters are fleshed out and believable. The cascade of events leading to the inevitable transition to violence happens in a measured, gripping, and believable fashion.

Some of Lee Child's books stand out more than others. This is true for any prolific writer. "Worth dying For" is among the best of the Jack Reacher novels. Familiar readers will likely recapture the thrill and suspense that drew them into Mr. Child's works in the first place. New ones will be in for a unique treat.

Jack Reacher, as a character, displays refreshing ruthlessness in this book. Mr. Child's uniquely practical lessons in the application of violence are both informative and entertaining.

Finally, the underlying mystery of the situation unfolds in a creeping, and creepy, progression. The clues add up, the circumstances evolve, and readers will likely suspect the truth bit by bit, right alongside the protagonist.

Read this book when you have some time - it is a page turner that will keep you up late.
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78 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2010
Who'd have thought it? Jack Reacher survived an explosion that can be seen from space. Read this in a few hours. Usual Reacher, breaks bones with scientific accuracy and speed. Utterly ruthless and barely a suggestion of sarcasm. Can't help thinking that if I was that good, I'd be sarcastic as hell. The Vegas villains seemed to be portrayed as if they were in a Cohen Brothers film. Stylish but stupid and incompetent. It made their outcomes fairly assured from the moment they were introduced. The ending tells us that the East Coast may be an eventful journey and personally I want to be on board. Jack Reacher is a character for our times. I've passed some time trying to work out who would play him on the big screen and the problem is there really isn't anyone who comes close. Russell Crowe? Too short and getting too old for the series (of films), but has the look. Making of the film would be fairly inexpensive as the action is real world, well, real Reacher world. Keep em' coming
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2010
Lee Child's 15th Jack Reacher book is a milestone of sorts. A nominal sequel to 61 HOURS, which was published in May, it picks up shortly after the earlier novel. Reacher is a bit banged up as the result of his escape from what seemed to be a certain demise at the conclusion of 61 HOURS (in WORTH DYING FOR, he explains how he managed to remain intact), but his residual stiffness and limitations serve as a reminder that he is neither invincible nor invulnerable. He certainly possesses a skill set that makes it difficult to remember that he might have a few weaknesses. Nonetheless, Reacher retains enough to triumph against overwhelming odds here, utilizing his considerable mental and physical abilities to right some extremely horrific wrongs.

WORTH DYING FOR finds Reacher dropped off in the middle of a nowhere called Nebraska, with little around him but a deserted motel. A series of events puts him crossways with the Duncan family, who for a couple of generations have run the local farming community as their own little fiefdom, utilizing a combination of terror and economics. They handle all the trucking of the surrounding farmers' goods to market, and no one dares to use an alternative transport system. As far as they're concerned, it's either their way or the highway. The Duncans also traffic in other goods, and Reacher's arrival is both the fly in the ointment of their latest shipment and a convenient excuse when the delivery to their customers in the south is unexpectedly delayed.

Reacher soon finds himself to be the target of some very big and dangerous people, including the Duncans' de facto security force, which consists of some alumni of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team, and enforcers representing different links in the sales chain, of which the Duncans are merely the first step. Reacher has few places to hide; his area has a whole lot of nothing, and the Duncans have most of the folks around there too terrified to help him. There are a couple of exceptions, however, including a woman victimized in the worst way by the Duncans several years before. Reacher would be just as happy to move on to where he was heading to begin with --- Virginia, for a rendezvous that may or may not happen --- but winds up staying, in part because of a mysterious tragedy that screams for resolution.

And thus we come to the strongest parts of the book. Reacher's combat skills consistently offer triumphs against his adversaries, but it's the mystery --- and Reacher's resolution of it --- at the core of these novels that makes the series worth reading. Here this process proceeds along two tracks --- one in which Reacher slowly unravels a horrific series of events in the Nebraskan cornfields, the other in which he takes the forces rallied against him and points them at each other. The result may or may not be the best Reacher book to date, but it certainly is his most satisfying.

I'm not sure what Lee Child has against the Nebraska Cornhuskers --- that his choice for a group of strong-backed and weak-minded associates would be best served by, say, alumni of the University of Michigan --- but regardless of your football loyalties, you'll find WORTH DYING FOR worth reading far into the night.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2010
As I start to type this review I note the black color of the keys, the white of the letters and the squareness of the entire board. I wonder why the keys are not round to make them more comfortable to my fingers. I then realize I can fill half of any book just by describing simple things, over and over....car engines, knives, screw drivers, garage doors, bar lighting, ruts in the road, etc. I can fill another quarter with fights and explosions then complete the rest of the book by changing the names of people I had used in other books and make half of them good, half evil...some drunk.

I have a fear that Lee Child has "jumped the shark" and is now phoning it in....ala Patricia Cornwell. The people in his books are all the same, the evil guys are all the same and the locations are always remote. Reacher never grows or changes.

I have read all the Reacher books. I am afraid my journey has ended. Thanks for the memories Lee.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2011
Ok. Let me begin by saying I'm a fan of the Reacher series. I've read them all and I'll read more. The character Reacher is great. Far-fetched, but great. Its great fiction. However, much of the backround stuff Reacher travels through or deals with is so ridiculously incorrect, I have to wonder of there is an editor in the house who has ever ventured beyond the big city. A few cases in point- Worth Dying For:

1. THE BASEMENT DOOR. Reacher is trapped in a pitch black "storm cellar" with no way out. The cellar door from the house upstairs is a "FEMA approved, steel core, steel framed, basement door that can withstand a category 5 storm with oversized hinges, burstproof lock and can withstand a 300 mph gust". It goes on to tell us that it "opens outward because if it opened inward, the 300 mph winds might break the lock and blow the "cellar" door in". OK, first, say Category 5 storm in Nebraska and they will look at you like you must be from the gulf coast or Mars. Category 5 is hurricane language, like in Florida. This is Nebraska, and the 300 mph winds are an F-5 tornado. Thats the tip of the iceberg though. Reacher is not in a cellar, he's in a house basement. If he was in a cellar, his door would be accessed from outside and could conceivably be a strong reinforced door set into the concrete house foundation. Reacher's door is in the kitchen and goes down the steps into the basement. This is a regular stick framed house built with 2x4s, sheetrock and siding. An F-5 tornado would turn this house into toothpicks in 1 second and that FEMA door with 30 adjectives would be stuck in a tree a half mile from the house. The door itself might be indestructable, but it is still attached to a weak little 2x4 wall just like your bathroom door at home is. It would be like taking an armored door from a tank and putting it on one of those little plastic cars kids pedal with their feet and thinking it could now take a direct missile hit...the door might survive, but the car is toast. Same thing with the house.

2. DRIVING. The terrain is described to be very very flat. No hills or gullies. Yet, Reacher's maximum speed on this 2 lane road is 60 mph??? I could do that in my garage! Believe me, I've had enough tickets to know, those flat 2 lanes are good for 100 easy. This isn't the first time this has appeared in a Reacher book. In another book, set in eastern Colorado, Reacher can only drive 50 mph. An ATV will do 50. Any car on the road will do 90 with one finger on the wheel.

3. ENGINE OIL. A pickup is chasing Reacher. Reacher gets under the truck while the truck is high centered and drains the oil. Unlikely, but hey, its Reacher. What happens? Well, what should happen is truck runs for a little bit and locks up tight and thats that. However, somehow this automatically leads to an instant fireball and the truck catches fire and explodes. Really? Gee, imagine what nuclear level explosion would happen when he has a flat?

4. BIG V-8. The pickup has a big V-8 engine....impressed? That sounds like something Franklin W. Dixon might have wrote in a Hardy Boys book in 1952, like maybe "the sedan had a big V-8 and it was rapidly gaining on Frank and Joe and Chet and...." Real world, 90% of trucks and 1/2 the cars for the last 40 years have had a V-8. Let me just name a few V-8s. Ford 289, 302, 351, 400, 428, 429, 460. GM 283, 305, 327, 350, 396, 400, 427, 454, Mopar 318, 340, 383, 413, 426, 440...and there are many more of course. Get the picture?

5. TRUCK VS FENCE. Here is my personal favorite. So, the bad guys are in their houses, which are inside a perimeter formed by a wood fence. Reacher sets the houses on fire. Their truck and Cadillac are inside this perimeter too. Reacher is waiting outside the perimeter with a gun and he knows they'll be on foot because the fire has blocked the driveway and no way the truck can break through a wood fence....Really? Sure enough, they get in the truck and ram into the fence, but no way. Really? Are they driving that little plastic truck the kids pedal with their feet again? Let me tell you right now. Any pickup from a little Toyota on up can smash down any wood fence. Period. A volkswagon would smash it down.

6. PROPANE TANKS. Same fire, same houses. The fire reaches the propane tanks, located inside the house, and explode. Really? Ever seen a propane tank inside the house? Me neither. If you've ever been outside the big city, you've seen those long white or silver tanks with the red cap that sit out by the fence. Boys and Girls, those are propane tanks. And they are connected to the house by a line usually buried a few inches or a foot or so underground. Its a code and safety thing. The propane truck drives in the driveway and extends a long hose and fills the tank. Wonder how the propane company fills these inside tanks at the bad guys' house. Do they pull up in front of the porch, open the front door and pull the long 2" thick rubber hose through the house and down the hall and around the doorways and flip open the tank lid located next to the fridge, all while the family is sitting around in the kitchen eating, and stand there and smell up the house with fumes while he fills the tank. Maybe while the tank is filling he sits down and eats with the family or plays a quick game of cards, then maybe moves to the living room and watches the game on the couch while every so often he gets up and checks the tank level. Then he rolls up the hose and sets down to watch the last few plays, then says "bye, thanks for dinner, see you next month." Really???

But hey, I'm just poking fun here. I like the books and the character and the series.
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37 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2010
I'm a longtime Lee Child fan and have read all fifteen Jack Reacher thrillers. One of the challenges of a long series based on the same character is to keep the formula from becoming ritualized and predictable. Plot devices and character traits that initially seemed fresh and creative can become as stale as three-day-old bread unless the author keeps his imagination in gear. To me, Worth Dying For shows the clear signs of author fatigue and boredom.

Jack Reacher is a static character, never changing, never learning from experience. It's as if he is condemned to a strange time warp in which the universe stands still. He has been and always will be a vigilante, a loner/drifter who hitchkikes across the country, eschewing material possessions, drinking coffee, avoiding intimate relationships, pummeling or killing the bad guys, sticking his nose into the hapless lives of the weak, and living by a peculiar moral code that rejects the precepts and values of civilized life. He is a merciless and vicious killer, a superhero, a soft touch for a sob story or pretty smile. His is a nuance free world of black and whites, of victims and evil-doers. Basically, Reacher is a male adolescent fantasy carried to extremes. That can be entertaining the first or second or third time around, but at some point an intelligent reader wants and expects more. But Child doesn't deliver.

What is sad is that Lee Child is a very gifted writer. When he puts his mind to it, his prose radiates freshness and beauty. He can set a scene better than anybody. He can build suspense, and handle transitions, and craft point-on dialogue. But I fear he has grown lazy. His plots have become repetitive and filled with holes. Worth Dying For is filled with car bombs, assassinations, beatings and murders, not to mention rapists, pedophiles, wife-beaters, and vast, complicated conspiracies. But there are no police, no circling helicopters, no newspaper reporters or TV cameras, or lawyers, in fact no signs of a larger civilization. His recent stories take place in a kind of dreamlike Twilight Zone, where the rules of logic don't apply.

It is interesting to compare Lee Child with Michael Connelly, another blockbuster writer of thrillers. In principle, Child is the superior writer. Were they enrolled together at an Iowa writers' workshop, Child would be an A student and Connelly a B- student. But Connelly has worked hard at his craft, and over the years his Harry Bosch character has evolved. We have followed Harry through the ups downs of life, through his loves and rivalries and heartaches, through his career reversals and triumphs. We understand his flaws and his core values. We know what makes Harry tick, and we care about him. Each novel in Connelly's long series is better than the one before. The endings are nuanced and thoughtful, the plots credible, the characters authentic. In the end, Connelly is the tortoise who wins the race.

I doubt Lee Child (or his publisher) will ever read these words, but in the off chance he does, let me make a plea. Lee, you're a smart, incredibly talented guy. But I think you've lost your edge and you need to get it back. You don't need the money, so before it's too late, try taking a few chances, get off your butt, turn off your autopilot, and show your readers the spirit, imagination and love of writing that was so evident in your early novels.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 27, 2011
I really like the Jack Reacher character that Lee Child has created but his plotlines are starting to become a bit inane and annoying.

In this novel Jack Reacher is once again in a small town, sticks his nose in other people's business and finds himself neck deep in another battle against evil doers. As Reacher is ambling through an out of the way small Nebraska town he becomes involved in a dispute with the Duncan's, a family that is involved in some kind of illegal trafficking that stems from them and on up to more organized and evil criminals.

The Duncan's are an abusive group of men who not only dominate and run the town, but abuse its residents, holding them in subjugation with the threat of violence. As the novel progresses, Reacher starts to unravel the dastardly acts of these men when he seeks to find out what happened to a missing eight year old girl who disappeared decades ago.

After a great deal of violence and using tricks of the trade he used in the military, Reacher battles the Duncan's to the bitter end.

While this novel is a rather fun read, as most Reacher novels are, it also stretches credulity and has as stale plotline. I mean really, how many small towns are there in American dominated by a corrupt and evil criminal oligarchy using extreme violence to suppress the town's residents? This plot device is starting to get a little ridiculous.

And for the real kicker, the last Reacher novel, 61 Hours, seemed to have ended on a cliffhanger. Other than seeing that Reacher survived, we really never find out exactly how. That makes 61 Hours a rather tepid and unsatisfying work itself.

I hope Child comes up with a more clever storyline for Reacher in the future.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2011
Maybe it's the author responding to reader demand, but this Jack Reacher enjoys hurting people. At least that's the way the book reads. I now hate the man I sort of respected in earlier books.

That's problem one. Problem two is that this is farming country: The farmers held hostage to the Duncan family's demands are not going to take it. They have guns. They hunt. They have sons who go to the University of Nebraska and play football themselves. Long before Reacher showed up, local people would have solved the local problem with their own means. Including violence if necessary.

Third problem: The author has a wonderful plot opportunity with three groups of bad guys on the scene, all competing for the local business. The author has them turn on each other. They just do it. Why not have some fun with that situation? Let Reacher use the smarts he has shown before to turn these guys against each other? If I can think of ways to do it, so can Mr. Child. Heck, Child could have Reacher play games with the higher level bosses, who do not make it out to Nebraska.

Fourth problem: If the locals are paying too much to the Duncans, if they don't turn on the Duncans, they are going to sell or abandon their farms. A lot of vacant farm land, or Duncans sitting around complaining about having to farm the entire county would make more sense and more fun.

Fifth problem: Will the reader believe the Saudis are involved in the hidden level of crime the Duncans run out of Nebraska? That is Lee Child insulting his readers.

There are other problem. But, oh well, I read the thing to the end. So, two stars. Just not proud of it. (In my own defense, I did skip a lot.)
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