This book was a strange experience. It was, in large part, the story of a story. We follow a very dry, and somewhat dim hero unearthing dusty histories, reading over his shoulder snippets describing vast adventures as if through smoked glass. Minutes are devoted to characters we never see again, and events that deserve far more explication are lovingly set up and then casually abondoned. On the plus side, if you are patient, the ending suddenly rouses to slam-bang action and poignancy that ties the whole effort together at long last.
One more odd plus is that you can make a drinking game out of counting the times the verbally dyslexic narrator mispronounces and misreads fairly basic vocabulary. You will wince at first and then laugh.
The narrator has about 3 voices and 2 accents. He does not serve the material well. The characters are not developed. The moral qualms of the soldiers are unrealistic in the situation as described. Too many characters who are not anchored by time and place and personality. Poor writing. I can't give it one star because the spelling was fine.
I love Lee Child's writing, and his observations and asides still enchant. I almost never give a pass to unrealistic situations but somehow when Reacher uncovers byzantine conspiracies and ends up out of touch and out of reach in a Corner of Nowhere despite this being an extremely connected society... I go along. I don't know why I cut Child so much slack. Perhaps it is because I love the "Stranger comes to Town" trope.
I just the author would get back to more grounded situations. The villains were faceless. We never get to know them. That can work, but here it just makes the conflict oddly bloodless despite all the blood.
Oddly David Baldacci's "Zero Day" has been called a Jack Reacher homage, and I find "A Wanted Man" to be weirdly evocative of "Zero Day", and I know that is either a strange coincidence... or a conspriacy!
One final note on action and violence: way way to little. Reacher never even punches someone in the stomach till near the end of the book. I appreciate that he is a detective unraveling a mystery, but he is a very large, very strong detective who knows how to fight dirty. The best fight is the one you walk away from--- unless you're a thriller writer.
Half as Good as "Beat the Reaper" which still places it very high on my list. Does not have the intensity or pace of BTR, but is still well-written. I am not rating based on Bazell's Politics. I am not rating his views on Global warming. I am rating the writing and the story. If I can stomach Steven Hunter for the sake of his great story-telling ability, then I suggest "Wild Thing" is just as tasty a dish even if you don't like the color of the napkin. Actually, I think he treated Palin with mild whimsy, compared to Captain Bonobo (Obama) in Hunter's "Soft Target".
I do wish we had stayed on the cruise ship for the whole book. Imagine the fun he could have had. After BTR, you never want to go near a hospital again. Just think of what Josh could have done with our desire to take a nice cruise.
The Narration was great. If it bothers you, beware the profanity
If you like your humorous revenge psychopathic, this is the story for you. Before there was Dexter, there was Serge, and he isn't fooling anybody. He's your (vastly hyper and annoying) friend for life... unless you're a jerk... then you're dead! In some elaborate and hilarious way. I love the way Dorsey weaves together disparate strands into his typical explosive climaxes. He is a careful plotter and a very clever writer. Love it.
The characters were flat and the story was full of missed potential. This was not vivid work, and I did not care what happened to these unlovable characters.
Fantastic material rendered dreary by somnolent narration, repetition of material, and unsupported fictional interpretations about what "no doubt" happened. "No doubt" becomes a code phrase for "wild guess".
Just how was it so easy for the Spanish to so overwhelmingly dominate the battlefield? Sure, they had horses and armor, but scores or a few hundred Spaniards against literally thousands of their Incan opponents and they weren't overwhelmed like spiders by army ants? I don't think we will ever know the real answers, but the important military aspects are glossed over, and there are not even any particularly good guesses as to why the "brilliant" Peruvian generals were such twits.
The amazing villainies of the Conquistadors are described baldly and boringly indeed. You have to rely on your own imagination to flesh out this tale and bring it to life, for you will find little enough juice in the narrative.
Historians have little to go on, but the guesses presented here are unconvincing and uninteresting.
God, maybe it's because my own Dad was a vet of the same age, but by the end of this thing, I was so choked up I couldn't talk for awhile. What a beautiful, touching ending.
This was a vital, powerful human being, and I am sure we only touched the surface of his life.
My favorite parts were the technical and flying passages. I loved the stuff about dealing with the torque of the P-51, and mastering aircraft without any familiarization, and the war tactics.
It opened my eyes about SAC, and the inside of a previously opaque organization, The USAF.
Why couldn't a guy like that fly forever?
I never "felt" what it was like aboard before.The author really makes me see the hugeness of this wooden battleship and feel the salt and wind. Marvelous. The first half of this book is magnificent in that sense, and gives you the "downstairs" of a pressed man, rather than the "upstairs" of a Hornblower or Maturin. The second half of the book changes tone almost jarringly, with adventures that are described in an unbelievable fashion (even if they are based on fact) and dialog that is clumsy. Still, I want more of this series.
Narrator is good, except that Kydd's accent keeps changing.
Lee Child left me feeling he was getting rushed and a little stale, especially in his last book, "61 hours". On the one hand, I want an author to feel free to write what he wants, and not listen to the forum of reviewers too much, since much of that feedback will be inhibiting. Among the complaints was a lot of whining about not enough action. Well hey, I was one of the whiners, and maybe he listened just a bit, because... Hurray. This is the take no prisoners Reacher of old; operating for truth and justice, but not by the lawbook.
Some people don't like the wordy essays on random subjects, or the way it takes 4 pages sometimes between the cocking of a fist and the landing of a blow... I love it. I love the observations and the mini lectures.
Lee Child takes his time with this one, slowly building the story and keeping it going to new heights of tension and action. No abrupt ending either, but rather a nice wind-down.
Wildly implausible and illogical at times, but such a great ride I just don't care. Lee Child joins Steven Hunter and John Sanford as one of my favorites in the mystery-thriller genre.
I have always been a Thomas Perry fan. He writes formulaically and that is not a knock if done well. But how an author can produce novels for 18 years and scripts for years before that and suddenly step up his game like this is beyond me. This is uber Elmore Leonard but even better than the beloved Elmore. "Strip" is so good on many levels.
There is Karma. People get what they deserve and even if this doesn't happen in real life, it is tremendously satisfying. But what do the characters in "Strip" deserve, exactly? You think you know when you start out. There is the innocent man under attack, the nasty small-time gangster, the thief, his put-upon girlfriend, a bodyguard, a collection of hoods. Good guys-Bad guys, right? Not so fast. Perry lovingly unveils these characters until you become very fond of some people you assumed you would despise-- and then they disappoint you, these fleshed-out characters that you have become invested in. And then, Karma.
And the unpredictability! You just don't know what is going to happen, and that is rare in a book in the crime genre. When something does happen, it is so logical, but so startling, and, in one case, horrible, that by the end of the book you are full of delicious tension.
Back to Elmore Leonard, or Lawrence Block, or the late Donald Westlake; this is absolutely in the same league, and one of the reasons is the dialog. Hyper realistic dialog as people say what they would say if they were just a little bit smarter and sharper than they would really be. I appreciate an author who amazes me. If I were sharper myself I could go on about Perry being a master chameleon as far as writing style, but I really don't understand sometimes just why something tastes so good; I just know it's delicious.
The narration is excellent except for the mispronunciation of street and place names.
Riveting to the last paragraph. Memorable. Rereadable.
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