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Sunday, 1 July 2012

Bad Luck and Trouble, by Lee Child, Reviewed.

Bad Luck and Trouble is one of a series of thrillers starring the heroic loner, Reacher. I have never read anything by Lee Child before and only came across this as it was part of a compilation of 4 novels in a free book I received via a book club as part of the introductory offer. Sometimes, such gifts prove more serendipitous than expected. This was one such occasion.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story and found it difficult to put down. I’ve never lived in the USA, have no experience of the US military, don’t gamble in casinos, and I live a happily married life with a wonderful wife and daughter. So, on the face of it, I have no points of contact with the protagonist. But Child has a way of making his hero into a well-rounded human, almost in spite of his rough tough exterior. This isn’t the formulaic easiness of the soft-centred giant. Reacher is considerably more complex. He’s a man with principles and, although he can act with necessary brutality and kill in ways that seem almost casual, beneath this toughness lies a moral mind and heart that takes a no-nonsense approach to the realities of life. He is an honest hero, honest even with himself most of the time, an unusual human trait.

I won’t attempt to give a synopsis of the novel, though the plot could be outlined in a page. The whole point of a thriller is the way the plot takes the reader through the various barriers to success, or failure, and pits the hero against odds most would find impossible. It’s a piece of fun escapism. But, in common with many of the better written thrillers, this one has an underlying theme of morality, a concern with right and wrong. Child avoids those excesses so prevalent in the genre; the easy solutions to complex problems, the ready subjugation of moral considerations in the name of expediency or plot development. He eschews such lazy routes to denouement and instead employs real dilemmas and proper human concerns in resolving the issues raised by the story.

His characters, the protagonists, are well drawn and we know enough about them to understand their motives and actions. The villains could be seen as a little stereotypical, a little lacking in depth of development. But, hell, we’re reading this to root for the good guys, aren’t we? So bad villains are acceptable. I don’t read thrillers for detailed explanation of character; like most readers, I pick up a thriller to be entertained, to be taken on a wild ride of escapism. And Child delivers.

Would I recommend the book? Without doubt. And I’ll be reading more of this author’s work, once I’ve read the 180 titles in my ‘to read’ list!

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