Title: 61 Hours
Author: Lee Child
Publisher: Delacorte Press
This is the third Reacher novel I have now read and it was by far the most difficult–difficult not in the sense of time (only took me altogether a few hours) and not in the sense of it being complicated story, it was neither of these. It was complicated because it out of character from the first two novels I read (One Shot, Gone Tomorrow). I had an expectation of a lot of action, a brutal plot twist, standard Reacher walking around looking for new clothes, and the standard physical love interest. Frankly, I was disappointed in these regards.
Anyone reading this book will not find typical Reacher. It is set in South Dakota and it is cold and frankly the story plods along as if it were set in a cold, snowy, South Dakota. There's simply no secret. The book is set in cold and the book is cold. The characters are cold. I wondered as I read how many different ways Child could describe the crunching of snow under car tires. I wondered how many ways he would find to make us feel the pain of below-zero air pummeling a man's face. I wondered how many different ways he would find to describe a blizzard.
I must say, Child is incredibly creative.
There's not a lot of action and those looking for typical Reacher action will be disappointed. There are a lot of conversations between Reacher and an old woman–Mrs. Salter, a sympathetic character whose wit and wisdom matches Reacher's. There is action, but it is mostly bunched near the end of the book. Like a large Reacher plodding through a thick and heavy South Dakotan winter wind, cold, and snow the reader plods through this book. It's a fast read, but it's a slow read. And frankly, if the reader doesn't have this story figured out half-way through or sooner then there might be something wrong with their perceptive abilities. In other words, the helix like mystery wrapped around Reacher in this book is predictable.
The gimmick in this book is the countdown of the 61 hours. This gimmick reminded me of that old Johnny Cash song 25 Minutes to Go. What you wonder all through the book is exactly what will happen in 61 hours. The reader might be surprised when the story's setting and the culmination of the 61 hours finally collide. 61 hours; 4 days. It's a nice contrast, a beautiful picture. On the other hand, I'm not sure the gimmick worked for me. I think it was designed to build tension, but for me it was simply a countdown to the end of the book. Not a bad idea, but I just couldn't get that Johnny Cash song out of my head.
I liked this book, but not as much as I liked the first two I have read. That doesn't mean it's a bad story. On the contrary, it's a different story from a very good story teller. It's slow. It's plodding. It's cold. Nevertheless, it is Reacher. Fans of Reacher won't be disappointed, but they will probably be surprised.