BOOKS: Die Trying: Lee Child

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Mar. 5—My father-in-law was a big fan of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. When Tom Cruise made a couple of Jack Reacher movies several years ago, my father-in-law always said they were OK but Cruise was too little to play the character.

The recently released "Reacher" TV series proves his point to anyone who hasn't read the books. Alan Ritchson plays a giant Jack Reacher. And if viewers couldn't already tell he's is a behemoth, almost every other line out of each character's mouth reminds everyone that Reacher is a giant.

"Reacher" is a good action series on Amazon Prime. So good, it convinced me to finally pick up a Jack Reacher book. With the "Reacher" series based on the first novel, "Killing Floor," I reached for the second Jack Reacher novel, "Die Trying."

While neither the characters nor Child's narration constantly point out that Reacher is basically a home-grown Hulk, there are plenty of instances and references to remind readers he's a big, strong guy. Smart, too. A former military police officer and Army ranger, he's highly trained. Since he opted to muster out, Reacher roams from place to place across the country. Raised a military brat, he traveled the world as a kid; so in his retirement, he's taking a long walkabout criss-crossing America.

Here, a moment of helping an injured woman with her drycleaning on a city street leads to Reacher being kidnapped and taken to the reclusive camp of a paramilitary survivalist group claiming sovereignty in the mountains of the American Northwest.

The assailants had planned to only kidnap the woman who is an FBI agent related to high-ranking government officials. But Reacher's good deed of helping her carry her burden lands him and the militant group into more than either reckoned.

"Die Trying" was originally published in 1998 when many readers would have likely considered the conspiracy theories fueling the militant group as so much hogwash. Sadly, reading the novel now, one must wonder how many readers would agree with the political views of this book's bad guys.

But all that aside, in addition to commenting on how Cruise was not physically large enough to do the character justice, my father-in-law said the Jack Reacher books are a good adventure series.

He was right on both counts.