Sunday 25 July 2010

Echo Burning

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.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for this review. That's a Lee Child I hadn't read; it's nice to know it was enjoyable for you. That is a very interesting point about Reacher being a modern cowboy. Very apt comparison in some ways... I haven't tried writing a thriller, but I know it can't be an easy task. Child is one of those who's able to do it well.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm glad Reacher has flaws...makes me more likely to read Child's books! I feel incompetent as a reader if the sleuth is *always* perceptive and I'm not able to keep up on the puzzle-solving end of things.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, yes, he is very accomplished at what he does.
Elizabeth, I very much agree with modern detectives, though I might make exceptions for Poirot and Holmes, both of whom I like very much.