Audiobook Review: The Affair by Lee Child

30 09 2011

The Affair: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Read by Dick Hill

Random House Audio

Length: 15hrs 33Mins

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The Affair is the 16th novel in the Jack Reacher series, and serves as his origin story. The novel is classic Reacher and in many ways reads like a love letter to long time fans of the series.

Grade: B+

If you haven’t met Jack Reacher yet, let me introduce you to him. Jack Reacher is a retired military policeman from a military family who spent his life moving from one military base to the next. Despite serving his country for his entire adult life, he never really had the chance to get to know the country he fought for. So after leaving the Army, Reacher became a drifter, traveling to roads of America with nothing but the clothes on his back and his toothbrush. Reacher is a man of few words, he prefers action, and that mindset gets him involves in "situations" as he travels the country. Reacher is also highly skilled in combat, from hand to hand, to firearms and rarely meets a violent situation he can’t handle.  In many ways Reacher is a superhero without a cape, a dark vigilante without a mask, and as with all superheroes, you need an origin story. The Affair is Lee Child’s 16th Jack Reacher tale, and it takes us back to Jack Reacher’s last days as an Army MP. The Affair is Jack Reacher’s true origin story, and in many ways it also serves as Lee Child’s love letter to Reacher’s longtime fans.

The Affair is a classic Jack Reacher tale, probably closest to the feel and structure of the first novel of the series, The Killing Floor. Reacher has been sent to a small base town in Mississippi, to discreetly look into the murder of local woman. The case is a potential media scandal for the Army, since the Senator in charge of Military appropriation’s son serves as a Captain at the base and because of the potential top secret missions of the base personnel. Reacher is supposed to go undercover as a civilian, which is a stretch since Reacher hasn’t truly ever fitted into that role. The Affair is truly a wonderful listen for Reacher fans, full of familiar scenarios, classic Reacher idiosyncrasies, and plenty hidden Easter Eggs for longtime fans of the series. While it may be a younger Reacher, it’s still the Reacher you know and love. The Affair also works as an effective mystery, giving Reacher meticulous investigative style a chance to shine. Add to that a beautiful cop, military corruption, belligerent locals, and a diner with excellent pie and hot coffee and you have everything you want in a Reacher tale. I do have one thing, not so much a quibble as an observation. I feel the past few Reacher novels have moved him from a hero to more of an anti-hero role. In many ways he reminds me of 24’s Jack Bauer in that way. Reacher tends to value his judgment over the judgment of almost anyone else, and seems to have become more of a vigilante, working outside the law, than simply someone pushing the boundaries. In many ways, while I have become more uncomfortable with his actions, I become more fascinated with him as a character. The Affair is probably my favorite Reacher novel in a while, and a must read for all Reacher fans.

It’s hard for me to accurately assess Dick Hill’s performance as a narrator in any individual Reacher novel, because for me, Dick Hill is Jack Reacher. Hill has been reading Lee Child’s series since book one, and his iconic voice has become synonymous with the voice of Jack Reacher. Hill has a deep booming voice yet reads with a crisp deliberate style that works well with a character based thriller like this. That being established I should mention that I really find the sex scenes a bit awkward when read by Hill. He reads them with a precise style emphasizing certain words and actions, with an escalating rhythm that eventually speeds to the climax. While they are well read, it sort of gives me an awkward feeling, like a Pastor telling a dirty joke. Other than that, I really enjoyed Dick Hill’s reading of The Affair, as I expected to. While I would suggest that newcomers to the series read some of the earlier books, particularly The Killing Floor, One Shot and Bad Luck and Trouble, before reading The Affair, fans of the series should be delighted in this latest tale.

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2 responses

30 09 2011
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

Okay, so I feel like I’ve heard about Reacher a million times this year, but I’ve never read anything in the series. Do I need to?

1 10 2011
theguildedearlobe

I love the Reacher series. Years ago a friend told me that the beauty of Walker Texas Ranger was that he kicked somebodies ass in the beginning of every episode and the end of every episode. A Reacher book is sort of like that, but with much more wit and snappy dialogue.

I have read a few reviews that say since this is a prequel it’s a good place to start the series. Personally, I disagree, I think to fully appreciate this book, you should read at least a few of the earlier novels. This series can be read out of order pretty easily though.

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