For years, I felt guilty about my addiction – then I found some famous kindred spirits. Which is your favourite Reacher thriller?
But there are limits to my patience, and Lee Child is one of them. I recently read a review of a new Jack Reacher title (Never Go Back), and immediately tried to download it on the old Kindle, only to be told that it was not yet available. For two weeks! I wait a whole year for a new one to come out, and when it does I want it right away, as in, I am going to read this today, all day, all of it. I will not put it down, because I cannot. (I was introduced to Reacher by a New Zealand friend who was once on a plane with 10 pages still to go, and carried on reading until he was gently removed from his seat by a bemused flight attendant. He hadn't noticed that the plane had landed and that everyone had left.)
I am, in general, unembarrassed by the lowness of many of my tastes. Bugs Bunny is one of my role models, and I support Coventry City Football Club. But even so, I was for some time unwilling to share – at least with serious literary friends – the depth of my devotion to Lee Child's novels. It is one thing to like crime fiction and thrillers – to admire Ian Rankin, John le Carré, James Lee Burke, proper writers all of them – but no one, I imagine, values Child for the quality of his prose. One can hardly find, in the entire corpus of the work, a single sentence worthy of independent admiration. But put them together, one by one and page by page, and I am consumed, not by admiration exactly, but by something much more powerful – the great animating impulse of the whole story-telling business – the desire, the rage, to know what is going to happen