The Affair by Lee Child****

17 November 2022

Reading dates: 10 October – 16 November 2022

Previous reviews of the Jack Reacher series

(now with publisher teasers so I remember which is which. After all, this is a research project.)

#1 Killing Floor ***
Jack Reacher gets off a bus in a small town in Georgia. And is thrown into the county jail, for a murder he didn’t commit.

#2 Die Trying ***
Reacher is locked in a van with a woman claiming to be FBI. And ferried right across America into a brand new country.

#3 Tripwire **
Reacher is digging swimming pools in Key West when a detective comes round asking questions. Then the detective turns up dead.

#4 The Visitor ***
Two naked women found dead in a bath filled with paint. Both victims of a man just like Reacher.

#5 Echo Burning ***
In the heat of Texas, Reacher meets a young woman whose husband is in jail. When he is released, he will kill her.

#6 Without Fail ****
A Washington woman asks Reacher for help. Her job? Protecting the Vice President.

#7 Persuader ****
A kidnapping in Boston. A cop dies. Has Reacher lost his sense of right and wrong?

#8 The Enemy ***
Back in Reacher’s army days. a general is found dead on his watch.

#9 One Shot *** (2012)
A lone sniper shoots five people dead in a heartland city. But the accused guy says, ‘Get Reacher’.

#10 The Hard Way ***
A coffee on a busy New York street leads to a shoot-out three thousand miles away in the Norfolk countryside.

#11 Bad Luck and Trouble ***
One of Reacher’s buddies has shown up dead in the California desert, and Reacher must put his old army unit back together.

#12 Nothing to Lose **
Reacher crosses the line between a town called Hope and one named Despair.

#13 Gone Tomorrow ****
On the New York subway, Reacher counts down the twelve tell-tale signs of a suicide bomber.

#14 61 hours **** 
In freezing South Dakota, Reacher hitches a lift on a bus heading for trouble.

#15 Worth Dying For ***
Reacher runs into a clan that’s terrifying the Nebraska locals, but it’s the unsolved case of a missing child that he can’t let go.

Six months before the events in Killing Floor, Major Jack Reacher of the US Military Police goes undercover in Mississippi, to investigate a murder.

The Affair is a novel early on in the Reacher timeline, which explains why he left the army. Chronologically, it is the third novel, it is told in the first person. Child himself says that this comes more naturally to him, although the third person helps to create more suspense. I prefer the first person narratives and I got very excited when I began to read this one.

The mystery, around the murder of three of the most beautiful women in a Mississippi town, is well carried through the whole narrative and well resolved. The scene at the very start actually happens in the middle of the storyline and then the narrative goes back to explore how Reacher got into the Pentagon.

I like the army thrillers because of the structure and order and how crime disrupts that. There is too little army for my liking in this story as Reacher acts as kind of undercover and a little outside it but nonetheless, the interaction with Sheriff Devereaux, herself a navy officer, is very good (apart from the lovemaking part, which is cliché and tedious). I would have liked to include the old couple reading in the diner a little more, as well as some of the other NPCs: the waitress and Joe Reacher, for example. As it was, there were so few characters developed it did not take a rocket scientist to find out who the perp was.

Learning from Reacher

On hitchhiking

I wanted a corner with a road sign, a big green rectangle marked with an arrow and Oxford or Tupelo or Columbus. In my experience a guy standing under such a sign with his thumb out left no doubt about what he wanted and where he was going. No explanation was required. No need for a driver to stop and ask, which helped a lot. People are bad at saying no face to face. Often they just drive on by, purely to avoid the possibility. Always better to reduce confusion.

On walking in the dark

Most right-handed people end up walking wide counterclockwise circles, because most right-handed people have left legs fractionally shorter than their right legs. Basic biology and geometry. I avoided that particular peril by stepping to the right of every tenth tree I came to, whether I thought I needed to or not.

On Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. at seven o’clock on a Monday evening was going quiet. A company town, where the company was America, and where work never really stopped, but where it moved into quiet confidential locations after five in the afternoon.

On the Pentagon

The Pentagon was built because World War Two was coming, and because World War Two was coming it was built without much steel. Steel was needed elsewhere, as always in wartime. Thus the giant building was a monument to the strength and mass of concrete. So much sand was needed for the mix it was dredged right out of the Potomac River, not far from the rising walls themselves. Nearly a million tons of it. The result was extreme solidity. And silence.

One thought on “The Affair by Lee Child****

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The affair