The Affair by Lee Child

The Affair by Lee Child

March 1997. A woman has her throat cut behind a bar in Carter Crossing, Mississippi. Just down the road is a big army base. Is the murderer a local guy – or is he a soldier?

Jack Reacher, still a major in the military police, is sent in undercover. The county sheriff is a former U.S. Marine – and a stunningly beautiful woman. Her investigation is going nowhere. Is the Pentagon stonewalling her? Or doesn’t she really want to find the killer?

The adrenaline-pumping, high-voltage action in The Affair is set just six months before the opening of Killing Floor, and it marks a turning point in Reacher’s career. If he does what the army wants, will he be able to live with himself? And if he doesn’t, will the army be able to live with him? Is this his last case in uniform?

If you happen to be one of the rare and isolated readers who have yet to discover – full on action hero -Jack Reacher, I only have one question for you – where have you been this past fourteen years, Mars?!! The Affair marks Lee Child’s 16th Jack Reacher adventure and is without question the book Reacher fans have been waiting for, for one very simple reason, we discover why Reacher left the army.

Incredibly well paced and remarkably fluent, The Affair is another multi-layered adventure that entertains on so many levels. There’s a little action – not as much as I’ve come to expect from Reacher mind – some romance, explosive encounters and a depth in a protagonist I didn’t anticipate. Reacher, for me, is more guarded, more circumspect yet given the fact that he is still working under the express orders of the Army and Pentagon this is to be expected.

Billed as a prequel The Affair is without question an ideal place to begin reading Lee Child. Narrated by Reacher he pulls the reader in from the very beginning as he reminisces on how it all began with a visit to the Pentagon way back in 1997. Standing at 6ft 5inches Reacher is about to end a 13 year career with the army and in this case we discover the politics behind his enforced decision to become the world’s most secretive nomadic drifter.

Travelling light – armed with just a toothbrush, pack of gum and the clothes he’s wearing – Reacher boards a Memphis bound bus to Carter Crossing marking his first undercover mission as a civilian.

The woman in the picture was black, probably in her middle twenties, and was every bit as spectacular as Janice My Chapman. Maybe even more so. She had flawless skin and the kind of smile that starts the AC running. She had the kind of eyes that start wars. Dark, liquid, radiant. She wasn’t looking at the camera. She was looking right through it. Right at me. Like she was sitting right across the table.

One of the things that stood out for me in The Affair was the crisp dialogue. Humorous in parts, it was incredibly well-crafted and delivered in such a natural way it allowed the book to move unhindered with a staccato pace that I found both exciting and rhythmical. Whether talking to Garber, the police, the unsophisticated local yokels or officers at the Pentagon – hell bent on obstructing his progress – it remains real throughout, believable and most certainly unforced.

The Affair - US Version

The Affair - US Version

The story itself is well structured and Child thankfully doesn’t deviate from his formulaic approach and tempo that has served so well in his previous novels. Reacher arrives in a town and attempts to solve a problem in his own inimitable style. Working outside the law and yet ironically at times within it, he befriends key locals and tries to solve the unsolvable. But who is the culprit in The Affair? With a variety of key witnesses, red herrings and shocks this novel will have you guessing until its explosive dénouement.  You never quite know who to trust – I for one wouldn’t want it any other way!

But this is what we come to expect and demand from Reacher. This is why we buy the books. No one writes action thrillers like Lee Child.

Another key aspect of The Affair is the midnight freight train that speeds through the town every night, throwing the town into a roaring inferno of sounds and explosive vibrations for 60 seconds. Some use the nightly arrival to their advantage while others surrender to its irrepressible power. Incredibly atmospheric and evocative there was only one thing that came near to challenging the train as a main character – a slice of peach pie and coffee in the local diner!

An enthralling prequel, The Affair commands your attention from the moment Reacher walks through the corridors of power at the Pentagon and receives his orders for the very last time. Highly recommended, this is the book Reacher aficionados will return to time and time again. Brilliant.

Published by Transworld The Affair is available in Hardback, Kindle and CD Audio

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