Monday, February 8, 2016

Delicious action and Jack always gets the girl for the win.

Die Trying (Jack Reacher, #2)Die Trying by Lee Child
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"If you go down to the woods are in for a BIG surprise"

Die Trying improves on some of my issues with the previous instalment, though there are also some downsides. Which is a good thing, as hopefully those issues will be improved later in the series. I whizzed through this book. I took the father to a game of cricket (please note I'm not a fan... of... very... slow... sports). But it gave me a chance to finish this novel, BOOM.

Jack's just taking a leisurely walk downtown Chicago, and happens to be walking into a dry cleaning store (not sure why, but there you go). He bumps into a woman (surprise!) who he later finds out is named Holly. She's just picked up her weekly dry cleaning (handy that), then all of a sudden two guys surround them and are bundled into the back of a van. Four days later, there in Montana and 'guests' of rather a loopy bunch of individuals who believe there is some kind of UN conspiracy to over-throw America (among other... things). We're talking over a hundred people in this little Waco-style nut-house. The whole posit on why there are doing what they're doing was unbelievable. I laughed, good comedy, although unexpected is always welcome.

Holly is a high-flyer in the FBI, up and coming and loved by all her colleagues. The good thing about Holly is she can hold her own. She isn't the traditional damsel in distress. She kicks arse, even with a busted knee. I liked her in the sense she didn't need rescuing, well not as much as Roscoe in the previous novel Killing Floor. So kudos to Lee Child for that, as it seems he must have listened to his reader's after receiving feedback about that novel. McGrath, Brogan and Milosevic begin the hunt for her (there all FBI "FBI FREEZE SUCKER"), but it's slow going for them. McGrath I particularly liked as he came across as a 'older' mould of Jack Reacher. Throw in General Garber, who was Reacher's former commanding office, then it makes for good reading - if a little samey.

Talking about samey - how many times does Lee Child's need to describe in 'second' detail what happens when a firearm is fired. Seriously, it's literally every time a M-16 or a Barreta was fired, BOOM... "Gas chamber, 5000th of a second, sending the bullet to speeds of 2000 mph..." - then next time that weapon is fired, the exact same thing again. Sure it was interesting to read the first time, but rein it in a bit. We get you've down your research on weaponry, which is obviously needed for such a character as Jack, but well.. just *yawn*.

Here is the real problem. I've mentioned this before in another review. Jack Reacher is invincible - he is untouchable. He's been up against no one who can challenge him physically or psychologically. No wounds so far, oh apart from a nick on his wrist from a handcuff. No competition means you know how fights are going to play out. You've a bunch of Southerners who are about as organised as a village meeting in Killing Floor then in this novel, a bunch of deluded revolutionaries who have little or no military training. There's a hundred of them. A hundred for Jack to take down "with a little help from his friends." Beau Borken, the villain and bad guy "que Marvel villain music please." He has brainwashed all these people, all these families. It is said in the novel he is charismatic and a born leader. Personally I found him to be the reverse, a deluded guy with inflated opinions. Welcome to the real world I say! Lee Child's is on to a winner, obviously with Jack Reacher. He is the type of person everyone wants to be; strong, athletic, deceive and a winner with the ladies. Hey, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but for me it's all a bit one-dimensional - again.

There's no realism here, which is good as it's a piece of fiction right? Wrong, surely Jack Reacher is meant to be living and breathing in a real world. The bullets that propel from guns seem to confirm to physics, hmm *rubs his head*. No one can hit Jack, no one can shoot him. Maybe it's actually a science fiction novel? He is surrounded by a invisible force field? Maybe he was mind probed, hence why is stronger than oak and fights harder than any other man ever born. When it comes to a fight, I've always believed your only as good as the next man put in front of you. This is true to a extent, Reacher can only fight who is put in front of him - much like a boxer. So hopefully the man who invented Jack puts more worthwhile adversaries in front of him to take on.

I've not much else to say really. Good points? Holly is a good point as I've mentioned. The chemistry between Jack and Holly is just about right. Mutual respect and a lot of eye-goggling going on. Not sure on the potential rape scene that went on, made me cringe a little. These type of books, your either going to love or loath them. I'll give anything ago... it's good to have a open mind about fiction, but not erotic fiction - why read it when you can do all that for real, haha. You can't do what Jack does for real, otherwise you'd be a smelly vagrant who will most likely land in jail for murder #1, twenty times over.

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I'm sure Jack Reacher is a tea drinker- discuss!

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)Killing Floor by Lee Child
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Money money makes the world go round..." - some song by LL Cool J

I shouldn't like this book, I really shouldn't. Jack Reacher is such a cliché character; American, save-the-day glorified yawn. BUT he is actually really likeable, in a sort of don't-wash-can't-wash sort of way. Personally I think Lee Child's shows a really deft hand at making what seems like a simple story complex and takes a generic character and makes them interesting. He didn't take the standard wise-cracking lead character, which seems inheritant in these type of thrillers - he made Jack Reacher more believable by making him 'human' - by making him seem like he has nothing to lose and will go to any lengths (aka Jack Bauer "24") to get what and where he needs to. Protect the people you care about and love, failing that, revenge seems to work just as well as any emotional cocktail. This is also fallible character creation, it makes for a archetypal character that isn't ever EVER going to get threatened or hurt (really). This (for me) destroys any belief the reader has of this guy walking through fire to get to his end goal - he'll get there without much trouble.

The jeist of the story has Jack Reacher (I did write Jack Bauer then, see, so comparable for me) travelling around the good old USA, a vagrant, ex-military type, tall (wear those platform shoes Tom Cruise). He finds himself travelling south, down to a small town called Margrave. Within hours he becomes embroiled in a murder case in this perfect little town. Hurled into the local police station, he thinks he has a clear cut alibi - until certain individuals start to make life difficult for Reacher. This seemed a bit weird to me, he seemed guilty before proven otherwise. Process of a just system, not in this case. Jack has to unravel himself from this case, but things become personal for him as more and more evidence comes to light. At least he didn't drop the soap in the prison shower room - well he might as well have.

That's the essence of the story. What I'm really hoping for, as a new reader to this series, is a over-arching story. What I'm not hoping for is individual stories that are just that. We're see.

Here's the real problem, Jack Reacher seems invulnerable, much like Jack Bauer. I never felt any real threat to his life. I've not served in the military, I'm actually the first not to in generations of my family. My understanding is your only as good as your training - from what I get from Reacher, he doesn't seem to conform to that ethos. He gets a few slaps, but other than that, he walks through guys like there nothing. That part, even though this is a story is unbelievable. I also found it difficult to fathom that Jack hooked up with the best looking woman in town (Roscoe) within a short space of time. This is a guy who has effectively been living rough for years. The women in the book are there ONLY to be rescued and throw about a bit of frenetic sex. I'm not the sort of guy who gets all riled up about equality in novels, but sheez one-dimensional characters are something you write when at school.

As for the writing style, it's basic. Nothing brilliant - the novel is word heavy in the sense of content, which is a good thing. Lee Child's is great with descriptive narrative, not so great with character development. Characters names are all handled using their surnames 'Finlay, Roscoe, Picard etc etc'. So this makes them less personable and in a sense less believable.

Killing Floor has it's good and bad points. I like it as I do like this sort of anti-hero persona, but I also disliked it for the lazy character development (among other things). I'm sure this will appeal to people, given the lengths Jack Reacher goes, very comparable to Jack Bauer in that sense. What else can I tell you? Lot's, but I'm going to tear into this novel and then the review is going to lose any balance to it. So that's a wrap!

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Case Closed. No More Parker Pyne For Me, Thanks!

Parker Pyne InvestigatesParker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fantasy Island for the mystery set!

This isn't Agatha Christie's typical who-dunnit mystery. Half the people that come to "investigator" Parker Pyne for help are just bored. Makes sense since that's who he advertises for, those who are unhappy and don't know what to do about it. So, his clients are often people with money who want someone else to make life interesting again for them...

That is difficult for me to swallow. I come from a background where money had to be hard-earned, penny by penny. As I've aged I've also learned the value of time. I tend to loath people who say, "I'm bored" and I feel "killing time" deserves capital punishment. It is murder after all. So, I found the very premise of Parker Pyne Investigates repugnant.

Much of this book is wish fulfillment. A client meets with Pyne, unburdens his woes, and then Pyne sets up an improbably scenario in order to spice up that person's life. In these short stories, Pyne sets up thrilling adventures and minor mysteries to put a little pep in his client's lives. More than once the issue is little more than a husband or wife who's bored with the other. So Pyne creates jealousy and soon they both realize how foolish they've been, how much they still love one another, and they live happily ever after. I honestly could've slept my way through this book.

There are a few actual crimes solved herein and occasionally Pyne flashes Sherlockian genius. Pyne is no Poirot, other than his girth, but occasionally Christie can't help but mix in some of that crafty Belgium's cleverness. However, there's not enough character in this character. Again, his girth aside, Pyne is flat. The most interesting things about him are his intuition into human nature and his unintentionally absurd notion that lying to your significant other is the key to a solid relationship. Yes, I understand "white lies" are what is meant or at least what it could be explained away as, but it honestly sounded like ridiculous, archaic advice column mumbo jumbo. Hell, this whole book is mumbo jumbo!!!

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