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31 August 2014

Lee Child: Personal

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Reacher takes on the World
I always promise that I won't read another Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and always break my promise because I want to see what Child has done this time to continue to breath life into this long running series. In PERSONAL Jack Reacher moves on from his nomadic life in the US to face up to a threat to the peace of the world.

PERSONAL starts with a bit of a bang when Reacher arrives in Seattle, reads a discarded Army newspaper left on the bus and sees that one of his senior officers from his Army days wants to talk to him urgently. The first shock to the system is that within a couple of hours Reacher finds himself travelling across the US again, but this time he is the only passenger in a luxurious Army executive jet. At the other end he meets two Generals and a couple of CIA operatives (female and pretty of course) who brief him about an unsuccessful sniper attempt on the life of the French President and they believe that the sniper will target a forthcoming G8 meeting of world leaders. The punchline comes when Reacher is told that the main suspect, a former US sniper recently released from 16 years in jail, is also targeting Reacher because he was the military cop who put him behind bars.

All this sends Reacher on the same jet over to Paris to check out the unsuccesful shot. There he meets heavies from the intelligence services of France, Russia and the UK who are chasing down other top snipers who may have gone rogue. The chase then takes Reacher and Casey Nice, one of the CIA operatives (female and pretty of course) over to the UK, undercover this time, to prevent the assassination of one or more world leaders.

In the course of trying to save the world almost single-handed, Reacher takes on powerful Serbian and British gangsters, takes out more victims in unarmed conflict at one time than ever before, and meets an opponent who is considerably taller, larger and heavier.

The first thing that struck me was Child's decision to write in the first person, cutting out the time honoured introduction to Reacher's size, physique and appearance that must have appealed to Reacher's many female fans. The second thing was that Child decided to go with an over-the-top plot to keep the series alive. IMHO this time he went too far. Probably the best thing in the whole book was the twist in the plot in the last chapter, but then you will need to read the book to find the answer.

No doubt this book will please many of Child's readers who are looking for an escapist read. No doubt many readers will be pleased to know that at the end of the book Reacher is waiting for a bus to resume his nomadic existence. No doubt I will promise myself that I won't read the next in the Reacher series, but no doubt I will also break my promise to see what Child does next to keep the series alive.

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