Thursday, September 25, 2014
Personal by Lee Child
I just finished the book, Personal by Lee Child. It is his 19th Jack Reacher novel. I liked it because it did not follow the usual Jack Reacher formula. This is where he hitches rides or takes a bus from town to town in the US. On his travels he finds injustice and by stealth, cunning and brute force he solves the problem and moves on.
Sort like a modern day Lone Ranger. Who was that not-masked man? Or maybe like the old Equalizer TV show starring Edward Woodward. Only you can't contact him and ask for help. Reacher is a former Army MP and can't just walk past problems he feels compelled to solve. At times he tries to walk away and the bad guys drag him in to the middle. Boy, I bet they wish they hadn't done that.
The nice thing about Lee Child is that he changes things up from time to time, so you don't have the same book, just with different problems.
In Personal, Jack Reacher is contacted via an ad in the Stars and Stripes. He finds it on a bus seat and there is an ad for him to contact a former Army associate that he owes a favor. This turns into some international intrigue with an attempted assassination of the French president and the possibility of carnage during an upcoming G8 meeting in England.
It is fast paced and although there is a high level of violence, there is also a lot of thought used in the intricate plot lines and it kept me guessing. I like that in a novel. Don't want to know who did it and why until the author tells me. As far as the violence, he TRIES to do it the easy way, but they won't LET him.
Two things I really liked. One, there are two women he encounters on this journey. One is age appropriate and one 20 years younger. At no time does he make the attempt to be James Bond and have intimate knowledge of these women. Not that he is a saint. He meets plenty of women in the course of his travels. But in this book there was no point in the plot where it made sense, so he didn't.
The second one is kind of fun. Are you aware that a lot of the future technology we saw in Star Trek is now coming to be a reality? People are making a Phaser like device that can send lethal and non-lethal laser pulses. There are hands free, voice activated communicators available. There is even a small tri-corder type device that you can wave over food to detect harmful bacteria. I'm impatient for the medical tri-corder.
Do you remember the Star Trek IV movie? It is the one directed by Leonard Nimoy (Spock!) and the best of that generation of the Star Trek movies. That is the one where they go back in time to get some whales to take back to the future. In it they have to get a manufacturer to build tanks for transporting them and Scotty gets a local company to make transparent aluminum because it is so strong and lightweight.
In Personal they are using Aluminum Oxynitride as see-through armor for when political figures are speaking in public to protect them. I looked it up. It's real!! There really IS transparent aluminum! Did the writers know of the research or did they make it up and then someone tried to replicate it??? I don't know, but I would love to.
(The Air Force's transparent armor
Air Force Research Laboratory Engineers are testing a new kind of transparent armor - stronger and lighter than traditional materials - that could stop armor-piercing weapons from penetrating vehicle windows. The group is testing aluminum oxynitride - ALON a ceramic compound with a high compressive strength and durability. When polished, it is the premier transparent armor for use in armored vehicles. )
Even those who don't love Star Trek ( I'm sure there are a FEW people) will like this book. I generally stay away from political intrigue, except for the early Tom Clancy books with Jack Ryan. This would make a great movie thriller and in fact all of Lee Child's Reacher novels would work great on the big screen. Child is a former TV director and has a good eye for what will work on camera. But until they cast someone other than Tom Cruise as the six foot four inch tall Reacher, I will be sitting them out.