The Affair by Lee Child

I was on holiday at Cotillo Beach Hotel in El Cotillo on Fuerteventura when I read this book. That hotel is reviewed at…eventura-spain/. I had finished the two books that I had taken with me, so I borrowed this one from my husband. I enjoy the books Lee Child has written about his nomadic character, Jack Reacher. Other books by Child are reviewed on this site: 61 Hours , The Affair,  ‎ Never Go Back and Worth Dying For 

Lee Child is the pseudonym of the British writer, James Grant. He was born in 1954 in Coventry, England, but grew Lee child picup in Birmingham. He attended law school in Sheffield, England but did not practice law. He worked for in the media for eighteen year career as a presentation director during British TV’s “golden age.” During his tenure his company made Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. He was fired in 1995 at the age of 40 but grabbed opportunity in the face of  disappointment and wrote his first Jack Reacher book, Killing Floor.

The Affair is the sixteenth book in the Jack Reacher series but is a prequel set chronologically and so is set before most of them. It was published on 29 September 2011 in the UK and on 27 September 2011 in the USA. This book is an exciting action story. The action in The Affair is set just six months before the opening of Killing Floor. It marks a turning point in Reacher’s career. If he does what the army wants him to do he does not know if he will be able to live with himself, but if he does not this may be his last case in uniform.

The book starts in March 1997. A woman has been murdered by having her throat cut behind a bar in Carter Crossing, Mississippi just down the road from a big army base. It is not known if the murderer is a local guy, or a soldier. Jack Reacher is still a major in the military police and is sent in undercover. The county sheriff is a former US marine and also a stunningly beautiful woman. Her investigation is going nowhere Reacher wonders whether the Pentagon stonewalling her or whether she does not want to find the killer.

the affairThis books is chock full of references to how Reacher would handle leaving the army. It deals with his ambivalent feelings about settling down in one place, with a home and normal job. So, he tours the army PX and picks up his trusty travel toothbrush. He goes undercover and determines his attitude to carrying a bag and washing clothes. He is advised to set up a bank near Washington and he thinks about setting it up so that he can access his account from anywhere.

However, one thing in particular did annoy me.  The narrative, as always, is in the first person told in Reacher’s voice and from his perspective and, I thought, in real time. In other words, I thought that the story was being told in 1997 by Reacher, not recounted from memory. The way the other references were made reinforced this view, they are not knowing from the characters point of view, only the author’s and readers’. However, like a sledgehammer the author ‘through Reacher’ makes comparison to the differences between the security at the Army Base or the pentagon before and after the events of 9/11. That just seems sloppy from Child, and irritated me greatly. Despite this, I really did enjoy this book. It is definitely worth reading, if you enjoy this genre.

Valerie Penny






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