Friday, December 23, 2016
17. Nothing to Lose by Lee Child
The biggest problem with the movie, though, was that it skimmed over the main thing that is cool about the Jack Reacher character: he's surrealisticly free. The movie paints him as a kind of freelance MP detective, meting out justice and uncovering conspiracies. But in the books, he is really a true drifter, who stumbles into situations that force him to use all his MP detective skills to mete out justice and uncover conspiracies. I know it doesn't sound much difference, but believe me the real pleasure in the books is how Reacher is just walking places with nowhere to go and nothing to do. He travels across the country with nothing, not even a wallet! He is the modern-day equivalent of Saki's "unledgered wanderer" and every middle-age, middle-management white male family man wants a little, teeny bit to be that guy.
The beginning of Nothing to Lose exemplifies this perfectly. Jack Reacher is in the middle of desert Colorado, halfway between the towns of Hope and Despair. There is literally a dividing line on the highway, solid, new tarmac on the Hope side and crumbling, greyed-out road on the other. The town of Despair is pretty despairing and weird as hell too as Reacher gets purposefully ignored by the few townsfolk and then aggressively rousted by the local constabulary. Of course, he breaks some noses and then decides to go back and see what the hell is going on. Lots of intriguing investigation, punctuated with ass-kicking and then finally busting into full-on chaos the way only Jack Reacher can do. Ultimately, the journey was better than the payoff, but it was well worth it. There are so many Jack Reacher novels, and the situations are all just exaggerated enough that you wouldn't want to read too many of them close together, but it is great to know they are out there when you need an easy and entertaining read.