No Middle Name by Lee Child

When Tom Sawyer grows to be violent Holmes.

Genre: adventure fiction
⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.9
⭐️Stars from me: 4

No Middle Name is a collection of novellas and short stories about a guy called Jack Reacher who encounters injustice wherever he goes and like Superman dives right in to correct the situation, save victims and punish villains. The troubles, obviously, had to be manufactured for the character to move along the book, but it’s still comical how Reacher just happens to walk upon them every time. Unlike James Bond or Sherlock Homes who get into problems due to their professions, Jack Reacher just bumps into them due to either bad karma or constant traveling.

The book is not bad, though. It’s entertaining and fast-paced like Indiana Jones movies. If you ever wished for John McClane from Die Hard and Sherlock Holmes to be crossbred, not literally but literary, the stories are for you. If you are curious what would happen if you added Tom Sawyer into the mix, read the story about Reacher’s childhood.

Jack Reacher is a violent version of Sherlock Holmes so he solves cases using a method of deductive reasoning. The connections he makes are less plausible than ones of Holmes but still work well for the plot. The events turn to be all connected in the end which is satisfying for a book like this.

As a runner I was very suspicious about a character running 5 miles in 30 minutes on a busy sidewalk packed with people and traffic lights. It would be an outstanding result even on an empty stadium. No way she could do this on a weekday street.

The part about a girl who is drinking a lot of beer but isn’t getting drunk because she’s Russian made me cringe a little. I can live through stereotypes, but they turn into clichés in books. By the way, about clichés, is it considered charming vintage or a stale cliché when a villain turns out to be Russian?

To keep the sentences dynamic Lee Child used specific language; there are lots of verbs conjuncted by “and” (something like, “he jumped, and fell, and rolled, and sprang back up, and ran again”) and lots of passive voice constructions (like, “papers were sent, documents were signed, calls were made”). This tool gets a bit too obvious at times.

I thought the stories would look great as TV series, but apparently they had already been made into series. I’m quite puzzled by the choice for the leading part, though. Jack Reacher is described as a huge man, a mountain of muscles with “arms of an orangutang”. Not once is he described as similar to Peter Pan or Dorian Gray. How come Tom Cruise landed the role?

I’m giving the book four stars because it fulfils its primary purpose to entertain. It’s an easy read but at the same time it is not disappointingly stupid.

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