Book Review: 61 Hours by Lee Child

I have never been disappointed by a Jack Reacher novel, until now. In fact, I own every single one of the Jack Reacher novels. All of them, and I love them all equally. But not anymore…I guess the other shoe had to drop sometime with 61 Hours.

In summary, it’s not an overly complicated plot. Reacher stumbles into a scenario, as he always does, where he lends his assistance to the local police force after of course confirming he isn’t the bad guy. Someone’s moving a lot of meth in their area, and they think it’s a bunch of bikers squatting on an abandoned ex-Air Force base which has miles and miles of underground space beneath it. They are right but they need to find the big guy, the one behind it all, a drug lord named Plato, before he kills their only witness (Mrs. Salter). Reacher gets help from his old MP team and it’s new CO, Susan Turner, to find out more about the base. After a few predictable kills (Mrs. Salter and Reacher’s police force buddy), the final showdown occurs in the base with the drug lord who gets triple-crossed by his own guys and some unnamed random Russian guy, and ends with Reacher running for his life to escape a massive explosion.

Mr. Child, you are a talented writer no doubt, you had me turning page after page and wanting more Reacher just as you always do, but you broke one simple cardinal rule. Reacher does not get the girl. I’ve never been rooting for two people to come together more than I did for those two. I felt really cheated because there was an unconscious build-up with Susan Turner looking into his file and getting more involved with him mentally and emotionally (and vice versa), especially during their last telephone conversation…and then you just ripped it away! Uggh!

Normally I close a Jack Reacher novel with a sense of “that was freaking awesome!” Not this time – I honestly wanted to hurl the book across the room, because not only was I denied any kind of actual face-to-face with Reacher and Susan, I don’t even know if my hero is even still alive. The book ended far too abruptly with Reacher trying to get to safety and Susan being shipped off to Afghanistan and all major agencies cold-casing the whole thing. On top of all that, the plot was way too predictable and so were the surrounding characters. I had Chief Holland pegged as the killer from the second he started being over-solicitous to Mrs. Salter.

As with all of Lee Child’s novels in this series, the writing was fast-paced and brilliant, but I felt inordinately let down by the content. Then again, maybe my expectations of Jack Reacher are abnormally high.

I would give 61 Hours probably 3 and a half stars, if only because despite it all, I still love Reacher.

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