Book Review: Lee Child ~ Bad Luck and Trouble (2007) (Reacher 11)

The problem for ‘book-a-year’ authors is keeping characters simultaneously the same and different. If the trick isn’t pulled off characters become stale and repetitive. Reacher is a very strong character and Lee Child can’t deviate from his Maverick strongman. A man who breaks the law with impunity, including murder and theft, whilst being a ‘Good Guy’. If an author can do this time after time, they’ve got a gold mine. Child does this effortlessly with book 11 in a seemingly endless series.1,2

Lee Child makes Reacher an idiot savant in this book. That is, he instantly and effortlessly, converts every incident – there are many – into opportunities for mathematical analysis. This is a tremendous risk as it jars with the normal narrative arc. It’s so unlikely it shouldn’t work. But it does.

This sets the scene of the newly invented Reacher

His arithmetic awareness and his inherent cynicism about financial institutions always compelled him to check his balance every time he withdrew cash. He always remembered to deduct the ATM fees and every quarter he remembered to add in the bank’s paltry interest payment. p5

During a gun fight Reacher thinks this

But a leg wound from a high-velocity jacketed .45 was not a pretty thing. It was like taking a high-torque power drill and fitting it with a foot-long half-inch masonry bit and drilling right through a limb. All in a lot less than a thousandth of a second. p200

Lee Child is a multi-millionaire author because he understands his readers. A rich mixture of high adventure, murder, carnage, heroic rescues, and appreciation of family life. And an idiot savant. What’s not to like?


1 100 million copies all told Lee Child: The man who’s sold 100 million books |

2 In Britain there was a TV series Taggart where the lead actor inconveniently died. The series continued as ‘Taggart’ but without the principal character as he was dead. Now that is creative use of a character as a brand.

This entry was posted in Literature, Mathematics, Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.