A new guilty reading pleasure

Well, once again, thank you Amazon.com and your recommendations. I took their advice this time and tried out a thriller they suggested, and now I’m addicted to the series.

Specifically, I’m talking about Lee Child (a former television writer) and his “Jack Reacher” series (warning: that link contains a few spoilers). They combine good solid thriller plots with a tough-guy lead character who’s reminiscent of Philip Marlowe, the progenitor of the first-person “tough guy” anti-hero detective.

You can jump into any of Child’s “Jack Reacher” novels whenever you want. It works because Jack Reacher is basically an ex-army drifter who finds himself just sort of coincidentally runing into a lot of mystery/thriller-based plotlines. A little bit like “Kung-Fu” (what a great series that was).

Like Raymond Chandler, the author of the Philip Marlowe novels, Lee Child was born roughly in the center of England, yet somehow manages to capture American grittiness like he’s stopping a bullet with his teeth. The writing is tight and beautiful, frankly.

Of course, this isn’t exactly Hemingway we’re talking about here, but this is great escapist fare for any lover of “literature noir” — more commonly known as “hardboiled mysteries” or “pulp fiction” — the gritty tough-guy novels that pay homage to the early pulp mags like “Black Mask” and such.

Anyway, if you’d like to read them in the order that they were written, start off with Killing Floor.

Now, the plots are a bit thin, and a bit tangled — another thing reminiscent of Chandler, he was famous for indicipherable plots (but a master stylist, a truly great author — Chandler, I’m talking about — one in a billion). But Child’s gritty (I know I keep saying “gritty”, but that’s the word) writing keeps you turning page after page. And it doesn’t drop down to the horribly simplistic (yet addictive) level of, say, James Patterson.

These are truly gritty (what’s the count on how many times I’ve used “gritty” so far? anyone keeping track?) and well-written novels, these Jack Reacher books from Lee Child. I generally don’t recommend authors much; lately I’ve been mired in Peter F. Hamilton’s grand space operas. But I’m recommending Lee Child and his Jack Reacher novels. These are really great books. You’ll get addicted in no time whatsoever.

So, if you’re looking for some good “take-me-away” fast paced thrillers, I say, go get yourself some Jack Reacher.

And if ya don’t read — well, turn off the damn TV for once in your life and start!

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