Lee Child,
Nothing to Lose
(Delacorte Press, 2008)

How can one describe Jack Reacher to the uninitiated -- of whom there may be some few out there? In simple terms I suppose you should imagine Rambo with a degree in philosophy. (And by that I mean the Rambo of the print world rather than celluloid.)

There is a need to suspend disbelief just a little if you are to truly enjoy the adventures of Jack Reacher, presented here in Lee Child's novel Nothing to Lose. Other than in fiction there are probably very few drifters in the United States who live without transport or credit cards and only the clothes on his back. Get past that and settle down and buckle in for a ripping ride.

Reacher reaches the not quite twin towns of Hope and Despair as we join him in this adventure. Child teases and cajoles us with his descriptions of the towns and the names.

In fact, description is an art with this author. Child describes the most mundane items and places, but somehow his economy of words works to great effect. He employs precision and economy in his words, with no excess of "flowery" phrases.

Despair will never feature in the tourist literature on the country. It is that epitome of dark America at its worst. It is a "factory town" ruled by a religious fanatic. It has the dumb law enforcement using brawn for brain and they make the primary error of running Reacher out of town as a vagrant.

Teaming up with Vaughan, a cop in nearby Hope, he sets about discovering the secrets of Despair. The ingredients of the nearby army post, mysterious girls, disappearing bodies and potentially hazardous materials are mixed to perfection in a tale that twists and turns by the chapter.

Beware; you will not have the solution before Reacher does. This book will have you glued to your seat, turning pages and wondering out loud.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

6 March 2010

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