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Sunday, 10 January 2016

‘Make Me’ by Lee Child

Published (US/CA) by  Delacorte,
8 September 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-8041-7877-8 (HB)
Published (UK) by  Bantam,
10 Sept 2015.
ISBN 98-0-5930-7388-9, 432 (HB)
Paperback, March 24, 2016.
ISBN 978-0-8575-0268-1.

This is no spoiler:  As this newest book from Lee Child opens, it is made clear from the first paragraph that someone has been killed, and his body is about to be buried.  He is even identified:  His name is Keever.  And the mise en scene is apparently in the middle of nowhere  - a wheat field “in the middle of ten thousand acres of nothingness,” a month before harvest time.  Jack Reacher makes his appearance on the very next page, as he finds himself on a train slowing down and coming down to a stop in a town apparently called Mother’s Rest, “which he had seen on a map and which he thought was a great name for a railroad stop . . .  He had no place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, so detours cost him nothing.”  So on a whim more than anything else, intrigued by the name of the town, he decides to check it out.

Reacher is an imposing figure.  He is a retired military cop, with rare attributes:  He is brilliant, with admirable reserves of intelligence and strengths (both mental and physical, at 6’ 5” and 250 pounds.  As he exits the train, he is approached by an Asian woman, about 5’9” and 40 years old, and very attractive.  The woman, Michelle Chang, has apparently been waiting for a man who fit Reacher’s general description, and is disappointed that it is Reacher, and not her colleague, the man called Keever.   She is a private detective, ex-FBI, ex-cop from Connecticut.  Keever was trying to make contact with a client whose identity is a mystery, but now it is her mystery as there has been no word from Keever since he told Chang he had arrived in Mother’s Rest.  Not improbably, Reacher joins her in her quest.

The mystery of the origin of the name Mother’s Rest is not resolved until the final pages of the book; the mystery of Keever’s whereabouts is resolved a bit more quickly, although it is a long and tortuous road discovering the answer.  And it soon appears that the tiny village of Mother’s Rest is not as peaceful as it might seem, and the small number of inhabitants are watching every step Reacher and Chang take, and reporting those movements to something of a master criminal.

The book is meticulously plotted, and wonderfully well written – no surprise there!  There are some constants in a Lee Child/Jack Reacher novel (and thank goodness for that!)  He still abides by his golden rules, the first of which is “eat when you can,” followed closely by “hope for the best, plan for the worst,” and travels with “everything he needed [usually only a toothbrush], and nothing he didn’t.”   The book is trademark Lee Child/Jack Reacher, very high praise indeed, and the novel is highly recommended.

(As to that title, that is explained in the last words on the flyleaf:  “As always, Reacher’s rule is:  If you want me to stop, you’re going to have to make me.”)
Reviewer: Gloria Feit

Lee Child was born in 1954 in Coventry, England, but spent his formative years in the nearby city of Birmingham. By coincidence he won a scholarship to the same high school that JRR Tolkien had attended. He went to law school in Sheffield, England, and after part-time work in the theater he joined Granada Television in Manchester for what turned out to be an eighteen-year career as a presentation director during British TV’s “golden age.” During his tenure his company made Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. But he was fired in 1995 at the age of 40 as a result of corporate restructuring. Always a voracious reader, he decided to see an opportunity where others might have seen a crisis and bought six dollars’ worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, the first in the Jack Reacher series. Killing Floor was an immediate success and launched the series which has grown in sales and impact with every new installment. Lee has three homes—an apartment in Manhattan, a country house in the south of France, and whatever airplane cabin he happens to be in while travelling between the two. In the US he drives a supercharged Jaguar, which was built in Jaguar’s Browns Lane plant, thirty yards from the hospital in which he was born. Lee spends his spare time reading, listening to music, and watching the Yankees, Aston Villa, or Marseilles soccer. He is married with a grown-up daughter. He is tall and slim, despite an appalling diet and a refusal to exercise.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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