Monday, January 14, 2013

Book review - Without Fail

Without Fail – Lee Child
Without Fail is the 6th outing for Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. So far the series has proved to be very strong but has times threatened to become a little too formulaic.
The blurb:
The secretive, closed organization that invites Jack Reacher in is the Secret Service, the organization that protects the Presidency. Someone who was once close to Reacher's brother, needs help in her new job. Her new job? Saving the Vice President of the United States from being assassinated
I’m pleased to say that this entry does not disappoint and maintains the standard. Jack is sought out by a new member of the secret service who is keen to do a good job. Her job? To protect the vice president Armstrong. How does she know Reacher? She is his sister in-law of course.
Reacher is asked to do an audit as it were to establish how tight the protection around the vice president is. Inevitably, Jack discovers that it is not too tight and then is enrolled to help uncover the mystery behind a recent assassination attempt.
One of my hang-ups about this series in the past, is that Jack Reacher is infallible. All the experts may think one thing, but Jack will think another and is inevitably right. This book falls into the same trap. Throughout Jack manages to see things the Secret Service and FBI fail to see. I’m fine with that if Jack was dealing with your average Joe, but we are supposed to be talking about the elite forces in America. Should this happen?
Having said that, this story is good. The Secret Service agent who recruits Jack used to date his brother which adds a nice dimension to the story. Jack realises that he can’t perform the role by himself and so calls in help from Neagley, a character who refreshingly does not swoon at Jack’s feet straight away.
The dynamic between Neagley, Reacher and his sister in-law is fun as both the woman are quite strong characters. The tension between Reacher and his sister in-law is particularly refreshing, especially when his past relationship with his brother is explored.
Once again, Lee Child draws attention to the fact that Jack Reacher is not invincible and is prone to the odd mistake here and there. It’s great to see and works effectively considering the setting of the novel is not your small town in the middle of nowhere but the high profile centre of Washington.
As always, the conclusion is tidy and satisfying. Some reviewers have blasted the departure away from the quiet town setting. I found the change invigorating.
My rating: 8.7