Year 2 / Book 45: Night School

45) Night School by Lee Child

There are times when only Jack Reacher will do. As the blurb on the back of the book says, “Men want to be him. Women want to be with him.” And who can argue? Probably the best-selling book hero putting aside that child-wizard, this is the 345th (estimate) book featuring the enigmatic, taciturn and charismatic Reacher. The books featuring him are the quintessential page-turners: short sentences, every chapter with a minor or major cliffhanger, characters you rapidly invest in and a plot that propels forward with increasing pace.

This was one of the more enjoyable of the recent bunch – set in Germany with a throwback to American influence and activities in Berlin, with a dash of international terrorism, and a few sprinklings of clandestine spy activity. Stir in a bit of love interest, and it’s all very satisfying and entertaining fare. Even comforting, in that loose ends are neatly tied up and the bad guys almost always get their karmic comeuppance.

Recently, I listened to a podcast episode from the series ‘In the Studio’, in which an interviewer sits in with an artist as they start to make or write their work. In this instance, the interviewer sat in with Lee Child as he started to write the next Jack Reacher book – I found it surprisingly interesting: the thought given to small words, to turns of phrase, the town names that evoke a certain feeling and so forth. Anyone thinking that the author just bangs these out on automatic would do well to have a listen. A lot of craft and thought and design goes into those clipped lines, and it was interesting to hear how personal thoughts and experiences inform the theme and story of the next book.

Of course, it is undemanding, but pretty reliable and this one felt very much like a return to form after the last couple. You could do worse than picking it up in a charity shop near you (where it will inevitably be) and escaping into the adventure, and putting yourself into the capable hands of Jack Reacher. He, and Lee Child, will see you right.

Score: 7/10

BUY IT NOW: Night School: (Jack Reacher 21)

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