Now, in a traditional thriller, the reader keeps reading because the hero is in jeopardy, or his world is in jeopardy. The Jack Reacher series is unique in that you never really worry about him. He’s like a super-realistic superhero: his wits, training, experience and sheer physical superiority combined make us trust him to get himself out of any situation. As I mentioned before on this blog, he will figure a way to scale a fence using a water bottle and a piece of chewing gum, or blow up the baddies with a cell phone, or make a helium balloon into a deadly weapon – and I’m only exaggerating a tiny bit. In fact, the cell phone example is true.
So, as I said, you never have to worry about Reacher. What’s more, the plot of NEVER GO BACK doesn’t rely on a deadly virus being released into the population or an asteroid hitting the earth. So, contrary to all thriller rules, there is no immediate danger. And yet, the way the book is written, you keep on reading. You want to solve the mystery, you want to know how things will work out with Susan (if you don’t know who Susan is, read 61 HOURS), you want to spend time in Reacher’s world.
Lee Child is known for the brevity of his writing style. He can have a page-long conversation full of he said / she said. His descriptions are factual, often with exact metrics, often noting the absence rather than the presence of objects. This usually works well and serves as a Lee Child signature. In NEVER GO BACK, he goes a step further. Without compromising his voice, he adds an extra layer of detail to his narrative, making it easy for the reader to sink into the book with all five senses.
If I had to pick my favourite Lee Child book, it would be this one.