Wednesday 16 June 2010

Starting a Thriller

I’ve been meaning to devour another Lee Child for ages, after loving The Visitor, and now I’ve just begun to listen to an audio book version of Echo Burning, featuring his regular hero Jack Reacher. It’s made a good start.

Lee Child has not become a global best-seller by accident. There are reasons for his success (just as there are always reasons for great success) and writers like me can, I’m sure, learn a good deal from studying the methods of such a writer, even if his books are different from the type of story that we usually produce.

Echo Burning begins at a breakneck pace, and that is, of course, part of Child’s secret. Reacher escapes from his hotel room in Texas just in time to evade arrest by a cop whom he attacked (under much provocation) in a bar the previous night. He wants to hitch a lift out of town, and is soon picked up by a glamorous woman who interrogates him about his background. It becomes clear she is after something – but can she be trusted?

Meanwhile, a trio of hired killers murder a man whose car they stop in the middle of nowhere. What are they up to, and what will happen if and when their paths cross that of Reacher?

I want to find out more, which means that Lee Child has already hooked me, as he has hooked so many other readers. I shall report in due course on whether the novel ultimately lives up to its early promise.


Anonymous said...

Martin - I think you've put your finger on one of the reasons that Lee Child has continued to be so well-regarded. It's that "hook," that gets the reader's attention right away and doesn't let go. I also think it's Child's pacing. He's got a well-honed sense of the timing and pacing of the action in his stories.

Anil P said...

Haven't read any of his books. You make the mystery sound interesting.

Max Henry said...

Hi Martin - nice post, as ever. I remember my reaction to his first Jack Reacher novel. I thought Reacher, the drifter, was simply lifted from a US cowboy setting into the 20th century. In the first few books I didn't find him particularly believable as a character but Lee Child's writing (and bank balance) have improved so much over the years.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for your comments. Margot, your point about pace is important, and I agree it's apart of his secret.
Max, the cowboy analogy's very interesting.