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.
"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.
"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.
"FBI,US Army and Reacher rescuing the fair Holly"
Detailed, descriptive, belieavable.
Reacher, part Bond (without the martini) part Rambo (without the accent and affectations) and John Wayne for honour, and his country.
He voices made you instantly like or dislike a character.
No as I ordered the book whilst on holiday. That said did listen to it in less than a week
I choose this book following a previous order of another Reacher book; brought on recommendation and I now want to read the whole series.
"Stretches the imagination"
The FBI Director and Chairman of The Joint Chiefs are made out to be simpletons, sitting on a rockface, legs dangling, where amateur militiamen hold them hostage! Please!
"Good follow up to his first novel."
Top 70%. There is some annoying repetition of some facts and I found Bo's voice a bit annoying. Good story though and great twist at the very end which I almost missed it was so subtle.
Killing floor, same character
Solid performance, a bit unimaginative but he didn't get in the way of the story the way some readers do. It was pretty good
I will definitely read the next one, I find Jack Reacher quite fascinating and the author is now really fleshing him out. He was a bit cardboard in the first book.
"Reacher is THE BUSINESS!!"
It is fascinating to follow this special drifter as he copes with whatever life throws at him as he walks by!
"Good story, better than book one in my opinion"
This is a very enjoyable listen.
I read other reviews saying it was boring and "read like an artillery manual". In my opinion this simply wasn't true. I listened through this book much faster than many others I've bought; it kept me engaged throughout.
Although the story will not stand up to very close scrutiny, it is none-the-worse for this. It is what it is: a fantasy adventure set in a believable world.
I found the characters believable and likeable (or thoroughly un-likeable as appropriate).
I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed book one. In my opinion this is a stronger story than the first book.
"Getting into Reacher"
Getting more into the Jack Reacher character was the best part of this story.
I always find the performances often take a bit of time to get used to and this was no different. there wasn't really anything wrong with it but it didn't stand out either. I did find some of the breaks betwen paragraphs a bit abrupt at times.
Enjoyable story, if a bit insular to the US. Still, I felt the tension built well and left me with enough desire to make my next download the 3rd Jack Reacher novel.
"A slump compared to the first offering"
Not much to like. Fairly wild plot with plenty of holes. It seemed that the story was written to follow the unbelievable plot. There was very little of the guesswork and pulse racing of the first instalment and absolutely zero characters of merit beyond Jack himself. Here's hoping that the series improves from here.
Not favourably compared to book 1 of the series.
Narration was hit and miss. Jack was nailed I feel and Bo got a good turn. Webster was very jarring though and often at excessive volume levels compared to the rest.
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