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 July 8, 2002
This book was a pleasant read, but it was deeply flawed by numerous glaring factual improbabilities or impossibilities. For example: (a) the villain dumps stock of a closely held private company on "the Exchange," although only stock of public companies can be sold on a stock exchange, (b) the company's bankers are blissfully ignorant of the company's financial situation and panic like frightened rabbits as soon as its stock takes a momentary dip, (c) developers are apparently prepared to give the villain millions, on a few days notice, for real estate on which there are 500 existing homes, (d) the hero bursts, unarmed, into a room containing two armed drug dealers, knocks them out with his bare hands and steals one of their guns (please don't try this at home); (e) the villain has tortured and killed scores of people in his office at the World Trade Center, taking the bodies down the freight elevator in packing boxes, without apparently once raising any suspicions from, say, the janitorial staff, (f) the hero stops a bullet, fired at close range, with his massive chest muscles, and so on.
Authors working in the thriller/mystery genre often need to take a certain amount of poetic license with the facts of life to make their stories work, but Mr. Child has taken so much here that Tripwire is only a step or two above a comic book and dances perilously close to insulting the reader's intelligence.
on December 6, 2003
Having read KILLING FLOOR and DIE TRYING, I eagerly picked up a copy of TRIPWIRE. It is easily the weakest of the three. The villian, Hook Hobie, is like something out of a Marvel Comic book. Every time a character meets him, Child describes him all over again in the same terms, from the half burned face, to the J shaped hook where his hand should be.
Reacher's relationship with Jodie seems rather strange. Especially when Reacher admits to being attracted to her when she was a child, it sounds downright creepy. I was,however, glad to see him ready to give up his paranoid, wandering lifestyle.
The plot was barely interesting and any avid reader of mystery thrillers will figure it out long before Child tells us. I was glad that I picked this book up from the library. I would have felt cheated if I actually paid for it. I hope this isn't the beginning of the end for Mr. Child.
on June 20, 2012
I read the first two Reacher books and was excited to begin the third. My excitement soon began to wane as I plowed through the slow, tedious desciptive prose that began the book. As characters were introduced each seemed less believable than the one before. The scenes with the business owner and his family were simply too unbelievable and outrageous to allow me to continue. I put this book to rest when I was about half way through, bored to death, unconvinced and unable to bear any futher reading. This is quite odd as I'm usually able to get through almost anything.
on July 17, 2007
This is the first of Child's books I have read and I can't say it has inspired me to read any more. There is a good story hiding somewhere in between the dense description, but by about half way through it becomes so tiresome getting there that I lost all sympathy with the characters. Child is able to spend pages describing the simple act of getting ready for bed, and many sections, even chapters, fail to advance the plot in any way.
The plot itself is pretty transparent, there are no twists waiting for us along the way - we are given everything on a plate pretty early on then tortured to sit through over 500 pages for it to play out. If two hundred pages had been shaved off, Child would have had a great book on his hands - my blame lies with the editor on this one.
At times the characters are interesting, but most of the time they act in unnatural ways to contrive future action, or to spell out exposition for the reader. Child is clearly a writer who is into detail, but he has gone way too far here and left nothing for the most important part of any book - imagination.
on February 21, 2010
OK, so Lee Child isn't exactly Tolstoy or Dickens, and his hero is a misanthropic thug, but who hasn't daydreamed about being a non-person, wandering about using wits, wiles, and fists to right injustices and settle scores? And that's Jack Reacher who does not try to subvert or trick the system with false IDs and such. He takes the bus, pays cash, buys new clothing when the old stuff wears out. No family, no friends, no entanglements, no regrets - a strong, self-reliant character who floats on the surface, diving deeper only when he feels an injustice has been done. The premise is strained, no doubt, but the writing is just good enough to make it readable. I find it a guilty pleasure and enjoy watching Reacher get himself into and out of difficult circumstances, trying to make things right. So, yep, most of the one- and two-star reviewers are correct, but then they probably think James Bond is not entertaining. If you don't much care for Bond, Reacher won't please you much either, for Reacher is the crude American cousin to Bond. Who says sociopaths aren't entertaining?
on July 26, 2000
After loving Lee Child's first two novels, I am very sorry to report my disappointment with this his third effort, "Tripwire." He took approximately 100 pages to set the scene, which I would forgive but once that was done I still was easily able to put down this book - quite a departure from his previous works. The hero, Reacher, seemed somehow more seedy and more of a loser than we want him to be. He lacked direction or dedication or something, which he previously had displayed with great enthusiasm. Jack Reacher just wandered through this 'mystery' and was more interested in realizing the love he had only dreamt about in his earlier years. That was a very nice aside, but I felt no sense of action or terror in the journey to complete the mission and find the murderer. The villian was evil enough, but more disgusting than frightening. Also, in a well written mystery I am seldom able to determine the 'answer' prior to the final accounting. I was ahead of the author this time, and just waited for Reacher to figure it out. Please, Lee Child, I know from your first two books you do have a gift for writing; do not rush to print to satisfy your publisher, agent or whoever dictates when your novel is ready. You can and have done much better.