It’s one little thing, but it’s a big thing, and it sinks an otherwise superior entry in this thriller series. The usual hallmarks if high quality are present: the sleepily hypnotic prose style and plot pacing, the meticulous mental calisthenics, the steady low hum of conflict between characters.
This is a serial-killer thriller, a whodunit in addition to a how-and-why-dunnit, and Lee Child shows that such stories are not his forte, for he all but rubs the reader’s nose in the killer’s identity less than a quarter of the way in. All his red herrings and misdirections are clever, but alternately either too clever or not clever enough, and if you haven’t figured out who’s doing the killing long before the reveal, you haven’t been paying attention. And I’ll admit it right here: I’m not all that bright. But the solution smacked me in the face at a moment I’m certain Child didn’t intend for readers to figure out.
Child isn’t usually so inept about showing his cards, and subsequent volumes in the series show a reversion to his usual superior form, so, despite the line-by-line pleasures of one page to the next, RUNNING BLIND has to be considered a clunker, an outlier, in the Child oeuvre.