Book Review: Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel, Lee Child
Thriller: Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel, Lee Child
Jack Reacher is 6’5” and looks nothing like Tom Cruise. That has not stopped Cruise from playing the character in two movies, and I really can’t blame author Lee Child. Honestly, if I wrote a book and Tom Cruise wanted to make a movie from it, I am sure I would say yes. Assuming I could say much of anything at all. Then again, Lee Child has written more than twenty Jack Reacher novels, with 13 of them becoming #1 bestsellers, so he probably handled the situation with much more aplomb than many of us could have. His latest, Past Tense, takes Reacher on an unexpected side trip to Laconia, New Hampshire, the childhood home of his father.
Reacher being Reacher, this does not become just another stop along the road. Parallel to his own visit to Laconia, a young couple stops at a hotel deep in the woods near the town. They begin to realize that although their arrival was random and unpredictable, the owners of the hotel have been looking for a couple just like them for their own purposes. It might be New Hampshire, but the checkout procedure came from The Eagles rock group song, “Hotel California.” Checking out is not an option.
Meanwhile, Reacher is discovering some things himself. First, finding information on his late father is much harder than it should be. And second, rescuing a young woman being assaulted in the street is one of those good deeds that does not go unpunished. Before long, Reacher is being asked to leave town by the police, is being chased by gangsters from Boston, and is being attacked by local hoodlums for their own reasons.
And don’t forget the hotel.
I recently listened to an interview with Lee Child. One thing that struck me was how committed he feels toward his fans. Apparently he is often asked why he does not write other non Jack Reacher books. Does he never tire of writing the same character? Child’s response was humble and compelling. People love the character of Jack Reacher, and their support has given Child a life he could never have imagined. He feels indebted to those fans, and works hard to keep them happy. (He even almost apologized for Tom Cruise playing the role. Can you really say no to Tom Cruise, though?) I have never felt like an author “owed” me anything. Lee Child disagrees, and works hard to pay back those fans who have been faithful to him. The result here is a book that is fun to read and lives up to expectations. We learn a bit more about the character’s family. Reacher discovers a shadowy past his father never revealed. But we don’t learn much more about Jack Reacher himself. The character and the principles he lives by became evident in the first book of the series, and this book is no different. If there is a wrong being done, he will seek to right it. If there is a mystery to be solved, he will seek to uncover it. And if you mess with him, you will regret it.
At the end, you have another satisfying entry into the Jack Reacher canon, one which should leave fans of Lee Child quite content that he has once again successfully met their expectations.