Jack Reacher, alone, strolling nowhere. A Chicago street in bright sunshine. A young woman, struggling on crutches. He offers her a steadying arm. And turns to see a handgun aimed at his stomach.
Chained in a dark van racing across America, Reacher doesn't know why they've been kidnapped. The woman claims to be FBI. She's certainly tough enough. But at their remote destination, will raw courage be enough to overcome the hopeless odds?
©1998 Lee Child (P)2013 Isis Publishing Ltd, Random House Audiobooks
Lee Child is a genius at taking all the tropes of an action movie, and of a ridiculously competent action lead, and making them feel believable and grounded. Reacher is somewhere between Rambo and Sherlock Holmes in his ability to work out whats going on and deal with it in the most efficiently violent way possible. What helps the reader suspend their disbelief is that nothing in these books is vague; everything is meticulously explained. But Child doesn't drily regurgitate his research, he writes with a crisp, spare, lively style. The pacing is also excellent, the tension never letting up as we track the movements of the several parties involved. The various mysteries and cliffhangars threading the book are maintained expertly. Child is a master of leaking information to the reader in one subplot just as it will affect them most because of what's going on in the other subplot. The supporting cast are well sketched enough to keep easy track of, and to feel genuinely attached to in many cases. In this outing, Holly Johnson serves as Reacher's point woman, emerging as perhaps more impressive than even Reacher.
This is definitely one I'd reccommend unabridged. The plot is ruthlessly lean in any case. I also think action thrillers like this are particularly great for audio. Listening to a Reacher as you get on with your work is like watching a movie without the inconvenience of having to look at a screen. Some books you want to immerse yourself in the lyrical language on the printed page. Listening on audio, you might not get to wallow in the beauty of the descriptions, and the beautifully-crafted lines of dialogue might be coloured by indifferent performances. A Reacher is not a book that you have to worry about this.
John McClain gave a thoroughly creditable performance. His tone was laconic, but engagingly varied (on another Reacher novel the reader's habit of giving every line the exact same intonation began to get to me). McClain's voices for each character were suitable (if a little extreme sometimes - the bad guy sounded like both Mickey Mouse and Michael Jackson at points, and General Garber's overly gruff bark made me burst out laughing), and largely consistent. I did feel McClain got a bit mixed up at a few points and ascribed the wrong voice to a the wrong character, or accidentally carried a character's voice over into his narration. But these were rare instances within a very enjoyable performance.
This is not a perfect book, it's plot wanders a bit and some things made me wonder to yourself why the characters seem to be doing things the hard way.
This book was very usual in it kept my interest and keep me involved for the entire 8+ hours. The story just flowed beautifully and I never once got board.
This is not high literature, but is the perfect book for the lovers of action novels.
The narrator was nice to listen to, but some of his character voices were cartoonish, with the director of the FBI sounding like something between James Cagney and Popeye.
Tense, Satisfying, wild ride.
He is not as good for this type of book as Dick Hill the narrator in the Killing Floor the previous book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, but he is good and I did enjoy the story very much.
So far the "Jack Reacher" series is very good. I am reading through it.
Fanatical Endurance Athlete, who listens to a lot of books while training.
The story is not the best from this author, but the plot does keep moving and I like that sort of story for long trips.
The most memorable part of the story is the trip following the kidnaping. It builds suspences and forms a solid foundation for the plot.
THe plot is fast moving and has a little bit of substane. The plot has also aged well as the book as not a recent release. While not timeless, it will be relivant for a number or years to come.
"A meagre offering compared to 'Killing Floor'."
I literally blasted through the first Jack Reacher audiobook (Killing Floor) and was VERY excited to get stuck into Die Trying. To start, the book was great. It had a really good premise and left me thinking that Child was onto a brilliant plot.
Let's just say that I did not think that again.
The first mistake made with this book is totally beyond Lee Child's powers as an author to stop: changing the narrator. Dick Hill did a great job in the first one and really brought each and every character to life. Jonathan McClain just makes you wish every character was dead. At times his vocals are good, but those times aren't frequent enough. It's his character work that really hurts the piece. Reacher comes across as an arrogant, cocky, annoying guy at times (might just be my being overly critical). Bo sounds like a fat, asthmatic 7 year-old girl who is constantly surprised (could not take him seriously because of this). Several of the other characters voices change in pitch for no reason and a couple even sound like Bo at times.
Back to the story. As I said, it starts off great, but it just goes down hill. The idea of domestic terrorism is great. Shows just what could happen if the government pushes people the wrong way for too long. But some of the things that happen throughout are so far-fetched I was tempted to stop reading. I get that Reacher is a highly trained ex-military...but he seems to be a jack of all trades and master of even more. No military man should be capable of performing every task under the sun as though he had been trained at it for his entire life. I thought at one point 'if he stumbled across a nest of vipers we would suddenly learn he had training in India to be a snake charmer.'
One upside to the book is that it's very informative. As I said above, Reacher has a flawless working knowledge of everything. And he imparts that knowledge.
I did see this book through to the end purely to see if certain characters got what was coming to them and my dislike of leaving something unfinished. Not through any real love for the story like I had with Killing Floor.
Nicely read - the reader kept it try and that seemed to fit with the main character. Brilliant story - I'm off to get the next one!
Enjoyed this listen to audible all the time in the car and am really into the Reacher series top job !
"Poor voice work ruined this for me."
Lee Child absolutely, but I would not listen to Johnathan McClain again. It was like reading with a small child.
Disappointment but not with the book, just the narrator.
I probably will upset a few fans here - I did not get on at all, yes the premise is superb, but I felt it was like reading an artillery manual, on how to shoot a gun, again and again in painful detail in various formats, not sure whether I can read any more in the series, though I am told that they get better,will have to wait and see.
"My favourite Jack Reacher!!! Well read and fun!"
My favourite Jack Reacher!!! Well read and fun! Jack at his best! A must read!
"My second time listening"
I think this is one of the best reacher books - no toothbrush at this stage ha ha
really enjoy the detail in the Jack Reacher stories and Die Trying iis narrated wonderfully well.
"I'm hooked!! On to book 4!!"
I was sceptical about this series of books but I'm totally hooked. The only real issue is that I need more time on my commute as I can't stop listening to them. Jonathan McClain was good as a narrator but I preferred the previous books as they felt more gritty. On to book 4!!
"Reacher's second outing disappoints"
Jack Reacher Book 1 - The Killing Floor - left me interested enough to try book 2. It was a disappointment.
The carefully analysed life and death situations are still there. Detailed calculations of ballistics mechanics abound in the developing style of "Jack Reacher meets Sir Isaac Newton". The simplistic but entertaining brand of "Special Ops For Dummies" continues to work, but there is a great big hole where a credible plot should be.
The book is written and set back in the 1990s so some allowance must be made, but the idea that the U.S. Government would allow a paramilitary group to declare independence for half of a well known state (spoiler alert: the name of the state has been deleted to protect the innocent) while it went on holiday for the weekend? Please!
And while as readers we want to suspend our disbelief, the "I know where the denouement doomsday virus will be released because that dog in chapter three had a missing tooth" school of plot building really does ask too much (spoiler declaration: there is no virus and no dog, but if you've listened to the book you'll know the improbable prediction I am talking about).
The performance is good, although not quite of the same quality as Dick Hill in Book 1, but perhaps that is a reflection on the thin story line. Jonathan McClain certainly adds to the book rather than the other way round.
Ultimately, this was a book I finished because I was driving, had nothing better to do, and felt I owed it to myself to complete. It will make me think carefully before buying Book 3.
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