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Review: Personal, by Lee Child 2014

HERB JOHNSON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
This is a Jack Reacher novel, the 19th in the series of action-packed books featuring the ex-army MP who now travels around the country carrying only a collapsible toothbrush, buying new clothes every second or third day and throwing the dirty ones in the trash. He is basically a homeless hobo, but a smart one, who gets himself into a lot of trouble and gets out by beating the snot out the bad guys who accost him and outsmarting the ones who don’t.
This time out he is going up against a former army sergeant who is one of the best snipers to come out of the Ozarks. Reacher, when he was an MP, put him in jail for murder and there’s a good chance the sniper’s next target is Reacher himself. But there’s other action afoot. A French politician is almost shot by a sniper and is saved only by some new-fangled bulletproof glass.
So the hunt is on for the sniper, since the G8 summit in London is coming up soon and maybe the incident in Paris was just a practice shot. When Reacher travels to Paris to check things out, Child manages to sneak in a subtle bit of foreshadowing. There are several incidental references to a specific type of French wind gust and when Reacher is shot at while standing on a balcony, this same sudden gust of wind blows the bullet off course just enough to save his life. This is the kind of really cool writing one looks for in your top novels.
After that, things get complicated. Everyone is focussed on the G8 summit and only Reacher manages to figure out that everything is going in a completely different direction. Good surprise ending, but absolutely no romance this time out.
If one is looking for one of the Reacher novels with some romance, one need only go back to his previous novel, Never Go Back. It not only has romance, but it also some of the best lines Child has ever written. Reacher and his (female) cohort are battling some very mysterious bad guys and they vow that if they ever catch them they will burn their house down, cut off their heads with a butter knife and “beat them like rented mules.” Classic.
Another great book well worth going back for if you haven’t read it is Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes. This is a completely different genre and is mentioned here only because almost everyone has read it and it doesn’t need a full review. Briefly, it’s the story of Aminita Diallo and her life as a slave and, at the end, her willingness to help abolish the slave trade. Excellent book by a Canadian writer.

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