Jack’s Books Blog: Reacher and Reece

You can binge their series–or their books.

Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” character is set for a December release of Season 2 on Prime. Key to improving the already excellent depiction by actor Alan Ritchson is beefing up his villains. In Season 1, Jack seemed a little over-qualified to take on a fat, corrupt counterfeiter and his wimpy kid. There’s already 30-something Reacher novels by Lee, and now his brother, Andrew Child.

Meanwhile, the Jack Carr-penned series about former Navy SEAL James Reece, also on Prime, looks to drop end of ’24 or so. Chris Pratt’s portrayal of Reece was for a while Prime’s #1 rated program, and Carr is still writing Reece novels, so there should also be plenty of material here, too.

Reacher and Reece would be a formidable team—both are ex-military, extra tall and extremely unconventional. Both are feared and mistrusted by their former Uncle Sam-employers, yet both are invaluable to good guys, when all else fails. Reluctant heroes you can’t pin down. Somehow, I think they’d get along.

And both were in my reading the last few weeks.

I’m late to the Carr series, but book #2, “True Believer” (2019) seemed timely: a wave of terrorist audacity leads…ultimately…to Ukraine. Along the way, Reece has a trans-Atlantic journey, a rejuvenating stop in Mozambique, and a hunt for some unsavory characters with a nightmare weapon. I’m going to say it—the books are even better than the TV show.

In “Past Tense” (2018), Jack Reacher stops off in Laconia, New Hampshire, because his people were from there. OK, it’s no Mozambique or Ukraine, but as usual with any place Reacher hitches to, it looks small-townish, but hides big secrets. While Jack learns surprising things about his roots, a young couple driving from Canada to NYC gets stranded nearby, at the worst motel ever. Eventually, Reacher’s investigation, and their plight, entwine.

Also this round:

“Mrs. Pollifax and The Hong Kong Buddha” by Dorothy Gilman (1985) In this light, kitschy series, a spry senior periodically undertakes secret missions for a US spy agency. Emily Pollifax wears plummy hats, loves exotic plants and has a black belt. Here, she tries to make contact with a Chinese ally who’s in trouble and gets involved with a psychic, a burglar, murders and smuggling.

“Bad Boy Brawly Brown” by Walter Mosley (2002) It’s 1964 in Los Angeles, and Easy Rawlins agrees to find–and check on–the son of a friend. The young man’s joined a black militant group and may be in trouble. Soon, of course, Easy’s in even more trouble, but you’ll stick with him through every page. Walter Mosley might be the best novelist in America today; these books are not just great mysteries, but flat-out killer literature.

“Death in Paradise” by Robert Parker (2001) This is from the late mystery author’s “Jesse Stone” series of mysteries: Stone is a former homicide detective from L.A. who killed his career with a bottle, and winds up with a second, and maybe last, chance at police work (and his marriage) in a small Massachusetts town, where he’s chief. The discovery of a young girl’s body leads to much more than just who killed her.

“The Tenth Fleet” by Ladislas Farago (1962) A hidden gem of a history—this might be one of the best books out there about the U-boat wars in the WW2 Atlantic. The author draws on primary sources still alive at the time of his writing, and his own extensive experience in military and espionage history to produce an account of the impressive (and nearly successful) German campaign against Allied convoys, one that reads like a novel at times. I came away from this read more convinced than ever that Nazi Germany might actually have prevailed had they gone all-out on subs. With often manic, scattered “leaders”, they were trying a little bit of everything, but the U-boats were their sharpest tool. Thank God they didn’t realize it.

“Because The Night” by James Ellroy (1984) The second in his “Lloyd Hopkins” trilogy, it has the brilliant but haunted LAPD detective working on two questions: who killed three people in a liquor store but didn’t steal anything? And what has become of a fellow officer missing for a month, a man who often took dangerous undercover assignments? The threads of the two cases tangle and lead to one very warped psychiatrist. No one covers this territory—physical and psychological—better than Ellroy.

Read one? Let me know how you liked it? [email protected]


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