Book Review: A Wanted Man by Lee Child

Jack Reacher returns to thrill again

Reading time: 2 ½ minutes –

Seems every Jack Reacher novel I read is better than the last. I don’t know if I’m getting lucky with the order I’m taking or if I’m just liking him more the more I get to know him. Statistically speaking, it must be the latter.

This story is an interesting study in keeping your audience on the edge of their seat. a-wanted-manReason I say that is Child gives us a car ride across the Upper Midwest for the first 127 pages. And it’s captivating. Seriously. So you have to study exactly how the author is able to pull this off.

Naturally, I’ve come to a conclusion. As big and tough and menacing as Reacher is, what makes him an interesting protagonist for a story is his intelligence. Getting inside the man’s mind over the course of 127 pages is an exercise in excitement, notwithstanding the confines of a sedan. Caveat: he does spend a few pages at the beginning waiting 93 minutes for a ride to show up while he’s hitchhiking.

Ultimately, Reacher unlocks what’s going on in the sedan: Alan King and Don McQueen are kidnappers. The other person in the back seat is Karen Delfuenso, a terrified night club waitress who is also their victim. Caveat #2: Plausibility is stretched mighty tight when Delfuenso blinks her eyes in the rear view and Reacher cracks her code remarkably fast. But with his muscles dormant and his sense of smell gone (smashed nose), maybe his intelligence climbs even higher during that moment on a wintry road in Nebraska.

I have a Post-It next to my computer that reads “None of us is who we are” and Reacher (and the reader) will quickly learn the truth behind that statement. Even after he figures out who his three car-mates are, he gradually realizes his conclusion might not be accurate. There are as many twists in this story as ride down Lombard Street in San Francisco, and you’ll enjoy them equally, assuming you enjoyed the hairpin turns on Lombard.

One final piece of good news: Reacher keeps his sense of deadpan humor. At one point, helping a guy get untied using a pilfered key, the guy inquires if Reacher has a knife. “I have a toothbrush,” he says. (I know, I always love the lines with the toothbrush!) “That won’t help,” the guys says. Reacher rejoins: “It’s good against plaque.” So a helpful life guide along the way.

Pick up A Wanted Man, and see how a master keeps you captivated for 127 pages trapped in a sedan.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: A Wanted Man by Lee Child

  1. Ya know, I AM trying to read in my genre (currently buried in OVER THE PLAIN HOUSES – the prose in that is absolutely stunning), BUT – you make me want to read one of Lee Child’s books! I mean, bottom line, studying all sorts of stories is good for us, and that tidbit about the first 127 pages…as you would say…yeeeessssss.


    Just, just might have to pick one up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wish I was knowledgeable enough to know which to suggest for a start. I believe the first movie was based on “One Shot,” a 2005 novel.

      Here’s another trick he used in this book. You might be able to relate as much as me. You’re always told to incorporate the five senses in your writing, right? One of the hardest is smell. You just don’t naturally tell stories with that sense. In A Wanted Man, Reacher has a smashed nose. Hence, he can’t smell anything. Voila! Genius, I tell you. I think all my characters are gonna appear with colds and broken noses from here on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love using all of the senses, and especially (believe it or not) the sense of smell. Ha! I think I used the word “fusty” among other interesting words to describe a scent in the latest book. I also like to use the sixth sense, that intuition – that which makes the hairs stand up on your neck. 😉


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