I’ve finished listening to the abridged audio CD of Lee Child’s thriller Echo Burning, which I mentioned recently. It turned out to be very good car listening. Lively and interesting, without demanding so much attention that I risked crashing into a speed camera. In short, it did what a good thriller should do – it kept me entertained from start to finish.
I liked the comment made in response to my last blog post that Child’s Jack Reacher is really an updated cowboy type of hero. He’s strong, very good in a fight or with a gun, and his heart is in the right place. He turns down tempting offers from attractive but potentially dangerous women, and he is kind to small children – in this case, the young daughter of a woman who may or may not have killed her rather horrible husband.
The central mystery is whether the woman in the case is hunter or hunted, and Child keeps us guessing quite nicely. I rather liked the fact that there was a small verbal clue to the mystery which Jack Reacher failed to spot – so the guy is flawed after all!
I’m not pretending that books like this compare to, say, the best of Ruth Rendell in literary terms. But writing a really successful thriller requires real craftsmanship. Child has the ability to make it look easy. But it isn’t, and that is why he deserves his extraordinary success.