When a woman is kidnapped off a Chicago street in broad daylight, Jack Reacher's in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's kidnapped with her. Chained together and racing across America toward an unknown destination, they're at the mercy of a group of men demanding an impossible ransom. Because Reacher's female companion is worth more than he imagines. Now he has to save them both - from the inside out - or die trying....
©2005 Lee Child (P)2012 Penguin Audiobooks
You can't help but like Jack Reacher. He's tough, private, carefree, and sexy without trying. As with his other books I struggle with loving the story and hating the brutality. This author clearly enjoys detailing horror. I'll consider reading more in the series, but just fast forward past those parts. For me they don't add to the story.
Note: There are spoilers in what follows.
First, the narrator of the book is basically adequate, though the decision to use a vaguely southern accent for a California native is decidedly odd. I suspect he was hampered by the very weak source material, so I wouldn't be inclined to skip work merely on the basis that he is reading it.
The real problem here is the writing.
I walked into this book having listened to the previous book in the series, so I was willing to accept the conceit of a larger-than-life protagonist caught up by events. The book started well enough, but soon started to go off the rails:
The primary victim of the story is the daughter of the "Joint Chairman", the title bestowed for no discernible reason by the author on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Despite this being a position that is fundamentally both political and powerful, this character is portrayed as ineffectual and incapable of calling in any significant favors. (At one point, the character is to be found sitting with the Director of the FBI and eight marines on a broken bridge in the middle of Montana, facing a hundred militia members, with no other significant backup.)
Similarly, the Director of the FBI finds himself with three agents and no local assistance attempting to rescue a kidnap victim held by a hundred armed men, even though there have been days to organize a team. There's a deeply unconvincing hand-wave at a justification which serves primarily as an insult to the intelligence of the reader.
The intermountain west is dotted with military bases of one sort and another, but for some reason the major locus of the military part of the story is at Peterson AFB in Colorado when the bad guys are known to be in northwestern Montana. There's even a helicopter search and rescue mission sent from Pete. At the time the book was written, Mountain Home AFB in Idaho had a full Air Combat Command Wing, with fighters, bombers, AWACS, and refueling aircraft. There's a short mention of Malmstrom AFB (a missile base) in Montana, but largely as a place that sends a Marine (!) helicopter late in the story. (And that doesn't even consider Hill AFB, FE Warren AFB, and Ellsworth AFB, not to mention Guard and Reserve units that are all closer.
The actions of the protagonist are curiously inconsistent. Early on, there are many occasions for Reacher to make a serious attempt to short-circuit the kidnapping, but he chooses to be passive for 2/3 of the book. When the writer decides that it's time for the action to start, much larger risks than those earlier are taken nonchalantly.
It takes days (reasonably) and many pages to travel from Chicago to NW Montana, but when the last gasp of the bad guys has been on the road for four hours or so on the way to San Francisco, the characters begin to despair. I suppose that if you're going to try to search a 400 mile radius with a single helicopter, despair isn't unreasonable. But since the targets of said bad guys are more than 1000 miles from their starting point, it's not as though time is especially critical. They don't bother to call in Highway Patrol assets, of course.
A ton of dynamite is dangerous enough to kill everything within a quarter mile when it's convenient for the writer, but is blown up from 70 yards away by a character in a helicopter without comment when that's convenient. And speaking of dynamite, I find it "fascinating" that a star FBI agent has no real idea of what it might be other than an explosive.
In fact there's a drumbeat of unconvincing writing throughout the book. For the sort of reader that likes this genre, the ridiculous characterization and fundamental misunderstanding of the military, law enforcement, western geography, ordnance, politicians ... in fact nearly everything mentioned in the book, is likely to be fatal to enjoyment.
If I had listened to this early Reacher before later installments I probably would not have continued the series. That is my way of saying, "hang in there folks, it gets better." While the story is helpful in that it fills in continuity blanks suffered by reading ahead in the series, the poor plot and character development by Child damages the story significantly. This time the bad guys weren't bad enough, smart enough, or tough enough. The story signaled the end at every turn but never dug into the details of the plot (which would have at least added depth), leading to a no surprise ending with no punch.
If you are a stalwart Reacher fan and missed this installment as I did because it was not previously available on Audible.com and want to fill in a couple of gaps then Die Trying may be worth the time. If those gaps don't bother you then move on and enjoy later installments with the Reacher we've come to love.
Yes, because there is alway's something I Pick up on that I missed the first time
Holly, Because of her honesty about having feeling's for someone else, that didn't know, she didn't try to lead Reacher on.
I didn't like anything about his narration, I think he did a bad job. Reacher, and the other's didn't sound good at all. you couldn't tell if it was a man or woman. I think he's the narrator of Tripwire, if so I won't get that book. Sorry
If Jonathan McClain is the narrator of Tripwire, please take him off......
I'm fairly new to the Reacher series, this being book 2, and the second I've listened to. I read the other reviews before buying it, good and bad, but decided not to skip it.
I wasn't disappointed. Yes, the dialogue tendency to end sentences in "right?" was a bit annoying, but no more so to me than some regional accents or tendencies. It was probably a bit more noticeable in audio form.
I LIKE Jonathan McClain. (I'm not really a fan of Dick HIll, sorry.) I thought his narrative style suited the story just fine, and while I can understand some people, having listened to other books first, getting 'married' to the idea of one narrator as the embodiment of a character, I don't think McClain -didn't- do the story justice.
As for the story itself? It was full of action, a little bit of intrigue, and at least one small twist I didn't see coming. The villain was a bit blood-curdling, and McClain's rendition of his voice just made him even more creepy. All in all, I'm not sorry I spent a credit on what was a very enjoyable listen.
lee child, yes. absolutely. jonathan mcclain, I don't know who you are, but you're not jack reacher.
I would be more on the edge of my seat if the narrator didn't turn jack reacher into a cheeseball and holly into a pathetic joke of a woman.
I'm not into his inflection or execution of the characters' voices at all. call me spoiled because dick hill is such an excellent jack reacher -- but I'm skipping the next two books and ditching this one 2 hours in.
I don't know, are they going to make tom cruise play reacher? maybe we could get someone more on par with jack reacher's description. is dick hill available?
please call dick hill and ask him to re record these three books. this is bananas
Thanks to my Nook and now my IPod I no longer "read" a real book. It is much easier to listen especially with Reacher stories when so much time is spent in describing guns and ammunition.
At times for sure but you always realize that they can not kill him. Still it is heart stopping at times
Honestly can not remember who does the narration on most of the books I listen too though I have read many complaints to McClain. I certainly enjoyed this one.
This great book was destroyed by a terrible narrator
The plot kept me on my seat's edge when I read the book. When I listened to THIS book, I winced and sighed and rolled my eyes. AWFUL!!!!
No heart. No soul. No excitement. Dreadful lack of everything. AWFUL!!!!
I would throw this entire "reading" (I use that term with great misgivings.) OUT. Burn it.
It would be better to NOT have this audiobook in this series than to have this particular edition.
1. Shorter, tighter plot. 2. Good narrator
Overall premise ok, but it is way too long for the plotline so there are many passages that are just filler, with no value to the plot.
Accents were terrible, female voices ridiculous and overall delivery very flat
first few hours are OK, by the end I couldn't wait for it to be over.
I am a small business owner, writer and frequent traveler. Audio books are my constant companions
This is the second book in the Jack Reacher series and a bad place to visit. This should be called the Holly Johnson series as she takes up too much of the story and offers little in return, at least to the reader. A very exciting open with all kinds of potential descends quickly into a harlequin romance with brief interruptions of gun play. Back up to the Killing Floor and enjoy what Jack Reacher is supposed to be. We will pretend like Rambo Meets the Militia" never happened.
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