Lee Child has written 11 Jack Reacher novels.  I started reading them when I was in the UK as WH Smith’s (I think) had a sticker on one of the books “Enjoy this or it is free”.  It was something like that to get you to read a novel they hoped you would enjoy and not return to them.  A sort of money back guarantee.  I have now read 10 of them.

I liked the initial novel I read and more so as they have progressed.  Jack Reacher is a drifter going where ever he wants carrying only the clothes on his back plus his toothbrush.  The action has been all over the place from small towns in the south of the US, to an English village to, this time, Los Angeles.

The stories vary, at their heart is the idea that Reacher is righting some wrong.  Whether it is an innocent family or friends that have been killed or framed Reacher is called upon somehow to set things right.  Along the way he usually gets the girl, though less so in the later novels.

So are these novels formulaic?  It would seem so as I have described them yet this one hooked me.  The plot twist of why did the friend get killed when he was better than his killers is the issue of the novel and it is revealed late enough to make you really want to read the novel but not too soon so you want keep reading.  More of Reacher’s past is filled in but not enough to make you know everything about him.  The numbers in this one are also a fun part of the story.  Its the inner geek being evoked.

So should a Pentecostal pacifist read novels which are violent and sometimes contain sexual content?  This is a harder question to answer.  I don’t let these things shape my world, in fact the violence reminds me more of why I am a pacifist.  Yet this is not to justify the reading of these novels for the “benefit” they bring.  I read them because they are a good yarn and I enjoy thrillers.  This was the genre I moved to after science fiction and I think it started when I was visiting Europe and reading the Len Deighton series Game, Set and Match, then Hook, Line and Sinker and finished off with Faith, Hope and Charity.  I could really imagine the action taking place in these places.  This is still why I like thrillers.  I still have that bit of a kid in me who wants to be James Bond or some sort of super spy.  I just read them and think of me being there.

Is this wrong – I am not sure but it is better than doing what Reacher does.  We all want to change the world for the better.  Some of us just use books to imagine bad ways of doing it.