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Thursday, February 14, 2019
PAST TENSE: A JACK REACHER NOVEL by Lee Child (audiobook)
Published in 2018 by Random House Audio.
Read by Scott Brick.
Duration: 12 hours, 51 minutes.
Jack Reacher is in New Hampshire and is working his way cross-country to San Diego. As normal, he is hitchhiking. He gets dropped off near the town where his father was born, Laconia. He has never been there and decides to check it out. His father has been dead for thirty years but he might find someone who remembers him. The more digs, the more he finds that this father's backstory doesn't quite jive with what he is discovering on the ground...
Meanwhile, a Canadian couple is travelling through New Hampshire on their way to New York City. They are carrying a mysterious cargo in the trunk of their rattletrap Honda. When the Honda dies in the parking lot of a lonely hotel, the owners of the hotel convince the couple to check in for the night and try to find a mechanic in the morning. But, something doesn't seem right...
This book had all of the pieces to make a perfectly good Jack Reacher novel - Reacher's mysterious family problems (a semi-constant theme throughout the series), Reacher rolling into town and finding a wrong that needs to be corrected and clever local people with brave hearts to help him.
But, this book became a tedious mess that just never gels into a consistent plot. It takes nearly 25% of the book for Reacher (or anyone) to get into any sort of action, and that was obviously a plotting device designed to make it difficult for Reacher to stay in town. Eventually, Reacher picks fights with three different groups of people in this small New Hampshire town and its nearby surroundings (there simply must be something in the water to cause all of these problems). Even though this sounds like a lot of action, it was surprisingly slow.
It was almost like there were pieces of three separate books laying around and Lee Child just mashed them together into this book. There are flashes of clever writing and good action, but there is simply too much of watching Jack Reacher perform a genealogical investigation throughout the book. This was a wasted opportunity.
This is the first audiobook in the post-Dick Hill era. Dick Hill read almost all of the previous 23 novels and the assorted short stories and I enjoyed them thoroughly. Scott Brick is a solid choice to replace Hill (Hill has retired from reading audiobooks). I am sure that my dislike of this book was not due to Scott Brick. It's too bad that his debut book was this dud.
So, this is my worst rating of a Jack Reacher novel - 2 stars out of 5.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: PAST TENSE: A JACK REACHER NOVEL by Lee Child.