Better than the movie … ONE SHOT by Lee Child

I’m now nine books into the Jack Reacher series and I haven’t gotten bored yet.

This time I was uncharacteristically hesitant, as I recognized from the plot summary that this was the book the movie “Jack Reacher,” starring Tom Cruise, was based on. Since it was that movie that made me aware of the Jack Reacher books, I wasn’t certain how successful a mystery novel could be when I’d already seen the movie (and mostly enjoyed it).

I was tempted to skip to the 10th book — after all, these novels don’t really build upon one another, so I was unlikely to miss a key plot point or detail that I’d need to know in reading the later books — but ultimately, I decided I wanted to see how the book would differ from the movie (if at all).

I’m glad I did.

There are several characters here who were cut from the movie version, and while I certainly see why things had to be streamlined for the big screen, I’m glad I got to meet them on the printed page. There’s too much from the movie that simply can’t (or wasn’t) translated from the book — Child’s lean, to-the-point writing style; Reacher’s wandering lifestyle, which at times seems strangely at odds with his single-minded focus once he’s on a case; Reacher’s physical strength coupled with his intelligence.

For the most part I’ve enjoyed all the plots in the Reacher books with the possible exception of the one set in south Texas. Even knowing most of the plot points, it made for an enjoyable read. Perhaps that’s because I’m not really reading them for the mysteries, but for the strangely compelling personality of the protagonist.

Publisher’s Plot Summary:

Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me.
And sure enough, ex–military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. He knows this shooter—a trained military sniper who never should have missed a shot. Reacher is certain something is not right—and soon the slam-dunk case explodes.

Now Reacher is teamed with a beautiful young defense lawyer, moving closer to the unseen enemy who is pulling the strings. Reacher knows that no two opponents are created equal. This one has come to the heartland from his own kind of hell. And Reacher knows that the only way to take him down is to match his ruthlessness and cunning—and then beat him shot for shot.