Better off Dead
Lee Child & Andrew Child
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
Better Off Dead is the 26th thriller in Lee Child’s long-running Jack Reacher series, now co-written with his brother, Andrew Child. I embarrassingly admit that this is my first Jack Reacher novel, and I was a little skeptical. Usually, the “beat up the bad guys” type of books are not my genre, but I absolutely loved this book.
Within the first couple of chapters, I am completely enamored of Jack. He is a Six foot five ex-military police officer who has had trouble fitting in as a civilian. He has no home, no car, no regular job; Just the clothes on his back. Literally. He goes where life takes him and tries to stay out of trouble, though it seems to find him wherever he goes.
This one finds Reacher headed to San Francisco, where he comes upon a woman in an old jeep, smashed into a tree on the border of Arizona and Mexico. Michaela Jenson is looking for her brother, Michael, who has sent her an SOS message and then disappeared. When he tries to help her, he finds a gun pointed at his head. He immediately finds himself in the middle of a missing persons case, which ends up very complicated, involving bombs and CS gas and many villains, including a German who should be in a James Bond movie.
This book is fast-paced, and there is so much action. A lot of beating up the bad guys, but also, Jack Reacher’s mind is fascinating. In an almost “Idiot Savant” way, he is obsessed with numbers, time, and measurement. He figures each plot twist out quickly. Usually, before the reader can figure out what the twist is, and gets left behind. This can get confusing, as there are a lot of characters in this book, and quite a few different locations. What is always clear is that Jack will always do the right thing. I enjoyed his moral stance and his way of figuring everything out. He went above and beyond to save a woman he has just met, but also to stop a bomb from killing hundreds of thousands of people.
Lee Child has a unique voice which will appeal to all readers, including the ones who don’t necessarily reach for the action books. Better Off Dead has something for everyone to enjoy, including a tiny touch of romance, action, missing persons, and a solid hero. I loved the fast pace and the interesting characters.
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