I’ve read or listened to all 23 of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. So I guess you could mark me down as a died-in-the-wool fan. But Night School, the latest Reacher outing — even when superbly read by Dick Hill — is a disappointment.
For most of the series, Reacher was a very big guy — well over 6 ft and 250 lb — and preternaturally endowed with a remarkable memory, physical prowess, and rumble-in-the-jungle skills enough to take on 3-6 bad guys at once.
Reacher in this outing isn’t so amazing. Actually, he’s a lot like a character Tom Cruise could play.
But that’s not all. Reacher in earlier incarnations was a renegade, an outcast, a loner with a quirky and complex backstory. And each Reacher outing moved him forward in time while referencing some of the others. This Reacher is clever and capable, but definitely an establishment figure whose medals figure more prominently than his meddlesomeness. And the time frame is skewed 20 years back.
This Reacher retains some of the earlier characterizations, particularly the amazing intuition. But that’s overplayed in Night School. And he’s lost some of Reacher’s trademark habits. The old Reacher never changed clothes. He bought a total outfit as cheaply as possible, then discarded it in the store when he bought another. The old Reacher almost always worked alone. This outing is packed with CIA, State Dept, Army and other high level personnel.
Hey, Night School ain’t bad. But it ain’t Reacher either.