Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lee Child

Bantam Press - NZ$39.99:

The heart-stopping 14th new thriller starring today’s most admired action hero, the gallant and enigmatic loner, Jack Reacher is being released by Random House in New Zealand on Friday 19 March, 2010.

However The Bookman was fortunate enough to secure an advance reading copy. Be warned now that this is an unputdownable book and you shouldn't start reading it unless you have hours of free time ahead of you. It is the perfect plane or holiday read although the tension I felt as the story developed almost overwhelmed me so I'm not sure about reading it on holiday!

Winter in South Dakota. Blowing snow, icy roads, a tired driver. A bus skids and crashes and is stranded in a gathering storm.
There’s a small town twenty miles away, where a vulnerable witness is guarded around the clock. There’s a strange stone building five miles further on, all alone on the prairie. There’s a ruthless man who controls everything from the warmth of Mexico.
Jack Reacher hitched a ride in the back of the bus. A life without baggage has many advantages. And crucial disadvantages too, when it means facing the arctic cold without a coat. But he’s equipped for the rest of his task. He doesn’t want to put the world to rights. He just doesn’t like people who put it to wrongs.
The whole story is played out in just 61 hours.

Along with thousands of others The Bookman is a great fan of Jack Reacher. I wish Lee Child could produce several a year.........And my goodness how I envy Jack Reacher's ability to travel entirely without luggage, not to mention his unarmed combat skills.

Here is Reacher’s CV:
Name: Jack Reacher (no middle name)
Born: October 29, 1960
Measurements: 6’5”, 220-250 lbs., 50” chest

* Left home at 18, graduated from West Point.
* Performed 13 years of service, demoted from Major to Captain in 1990, mustered out with the rank of Major in 1997.
* Has a scar on his arm where his brother struck him with a retaliatory chisel
* Service Awards (circa 1990): Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit,
Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart
* Doesn’t have a driver’s licence, Federal benefits (doesn’t want them), tax returns (doesn’t do them; he hasn’t filed taxes since he left the

And now the low down on Jack's creator Lee Child who is visiting New Zealand in April.

Lee Child is British but moved with his family from Cumbria to the United States to start a new career as an American thriller writer. His first novel, KILLING FLOOR, won the Anthony Award, and his second, DIE TRYING, won W H Smith’s Thumping Good Read Award. His most recent thrillers featuring Jack Reacher, the former US military cop and maverick drifter have all been bestsellers.

Lee Child was born in the exact geographic centre of England, in the heart of the industrial badlands. Never saw a tree until he was twelve.
It was the sort of place where if you fell in the river, you had to go to the hospital for a mandatory stomach pump. The sort of place where minor disputes were settled with box cutters and bicycle chains. He’s got the scars to prove it.

But he survived, got an education, and went to law school, but only because he didn’t want to be a lawyer. Without the pressure of aiming for a job in the field, he figured it would be a relaxing subject to study. He spent most of the time in the university theater - to the extent that he had to repeat several courses, because he failed the exams - and then went to work for Granada Television in Manchester, England.

Back then, Granada was a world-famous production company, known for shows like ‘Brideshead Revisited’, ‘Jewel in the Crown’, ‘Prime Suspect’ and ‘Cracker’. Lee worked on the broadcast side of the company. He wrote thousands of links, trailers, commercials and news stories, most of them on deadlines that ranged from fifteen minutes to fifteen seconds. So the thought of a novel-a-year didn’t worry him too much, in his next career.

But why a next career? He was fired, back in 1995, that’s why. It was the usual Nineties downsizing thing. After eighteen years, he was an expensive veteran, and he was also the union organiser, and neither thing fit the company’s plan for the future. So he became a writer, because he couldn’t think of anything else to do. He had an idea for a character who had suffered the same downsizing experience but who was taking it completely in his stride. He named the character Jack Reacher and wrote KILLING FLOOR. The rest, as they say, is history.

• Kiwis are mad for Jack. Per capita, NZ out-sells (per capita) most other Lee Child markets
• All of the 13 Reacher thrillers have been instant NZ & international bestsellers
• A Jack Reacher thriller is sold every second somewhere in the world
• Lee Child’s worldwide sales now top 16 million copies
• Film rights to the Jack Reacher character have been bought by Paramount. A one shot script has now been commissioned.
• Why did Lee choose to make Reacher an ex-MP?
Lee wanted Reacher to be:
1) suddenly downsized from something;
2) suddenly adrift in a world he wasn’t familiar with;
3) accustomed to doing things in a rough-and-ready and very non-civilian way. So a previous career in the Army made sense, because it would explain all of the above.
He made him an ex-MP because
1) he needed some forensic and detective-type skills; and
2) the Navy Seal or Special Forces thing had already been done.
He made him an officer purely because a higher rank might give Reacher better networking capabilities when calling on old buddies for help. It’s been mentioned that Army personnel undergo the type of officer candidate school training which eliminates the mavericks, but Lee was hoping Reacher would be regarded as “the one that got away.”

Meet Lee Child in:

· Auckland (11-13 April)
· Wellington (13-14 April)
· Nelson (14 April)
· Christchurch (15 April)
· Dunedin (16 April)
Venue and other details will be here on the blog once they have been finalised.
Left - Author photo by Sigrid Estrada.

I was sharing enthusiasms for 61 Hours with one of my friends over there at Random House and she made the following comment that I thought was right on the button:

He sure is a master of detail and doesn’t he do understated cruelty and evil so well. It’s the psychology/anatomy of the scenario as it plays out that is so exhausting but totally compelling.

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