61 Hours by Lee Child: A review

Continuing with my Summer of Reading Mysteries, I picked up a Jack Reacher novel. As one who is dedicated to reading series books in order, I thought I was doing that, reading the fourth book in the series. Turns out this is actually the fourteenth book. Oops!

Oh, well. It didn't really seem to matter. The plot of this one did not depend on having read previous books. In fact, Lee Child managed to reprise information about Reacher's past and why he's on the road as a part of the plot, so no harm, no foul.

Reacher has paid the driver of a tour bus, out of Seattle, to come aboard with a church group of elderly citizens who have unaccountably decided to visit South Dakota in the dead of winter. That fact alone may be the most far-fetched part of this plot.

Before they can reach their destination, their bus swerves to miss a car in a fierce blizzard outside the little town of Bolton, and leaves the road, ending up in a ditch. There is no other traffic and no help in sight. In below zero temperatures and facing the possibility of freezing to death, they are able to get through to the police department in Bolton, but the police there are preoccupied with a murder that has just occurred. 

One car with the deputy chief is sent to assess the situation. He takes the most severely injured back to town and sends a Department of Corrections bus for the others.

In Bolton, there is no room at any inn, so the citizens agree to take the elderly passengers and the bus driver in, while the deputy chief takes Reacher to his house for the night.

It turns out that Bolton is home to a prison and also to an old and mysterious government installation where a group of bikers have set up camp and apparently have a meth lab going. The police have recently arrested the head of the bikers group and a local retired teacher has agreed to be a witness against him - if they can keep her alive long enough. It seems that a diminutive Mexican drug lord who goes by the name Plato is sending a cold-blooded assassin to see that she never makes it to court.

Jack Reacher, of course, becomes involved in all of this and becomes a volunteer to help guard the woman who is to testify. At the same time, he calls on sources from the Army to try to find out more about the mysterious federal installation and ends up helping the Army find a fugitive. This part of the plot was truly beyond belief. Reacher made a few too many incredibly lucky guesses about the location of the fugitive.

Child manages to provide a little insight into Reacher's history through his introspective conversations with the witness he is guarding and with the Army major back in Virginia, the one who assists him and whom he assists in finding her fugitive. But he doesn't provide answers to the burning questions of why Reacher travels with no possessions, not even a toothbrush. 

Really? Why aren't his teeth falling out by now? Why does he insist on throwing away his old possessions and buying new ones every few days? It all seems very wasteful and a bit sociopathic but a useful plot device, I suppose.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars    


  1. From what I know about Jack Reacher, he is a drifter and has hitchhiked his way around the country since he left his military career behind.

    Too bad this book didn't work as well for you. Perhaps reading earlier entries would help in giving you more background information on him.

    1. In fact this entry gave us more about his background than any of the other books I've read. No, it wasn't lack of background that left the book wanting in my eyes. I just cannot love Jack Reacher.

  2. Ah, the meth lab plot device. It seems to be coming up more and more. My husband was reading the Reacher books but he burned out. He went back to Hiaasen this month. Also he is nearly done with the new Neal Stephenson. I bought it for both of us, he got to it first. I can't wait! The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

    1. I'm not sure that I will return to the Jack Reacher series. He just doesn't grab me and there are so many other wonderful books that do.


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