Lee Child, Make Me: A Jack Reacher Novel (New York: Delacorte, 2015). Hardcover | Kindle
Reading fiction requires a willing suspension of disbelief. With Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, this suspension usually comes easily. Child is a talented writer whose narrative pacing grabs your attention and drags you along with it until Reacher gets his man.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time suspending disbelief while reading Make Me, the twentieth novel in the Reacher series. The novel is a page-turner, which I read in its entirety on the day of publication. But unlike previous novels, I found myself increasingly skeptical of elements of the story.
For the story to work, we have to believe that Reacher—in his mid-50s and homeless for nearly two decades—has lost none of his vital powers, whether intellectual, physical, social, or whatever. We have to believe that he is able to roam the country without let or hindrance from law enforcement, despite having racked up a body count in the high two-digits. We have to believe that the violence and stress he has both suffered and inflicted have left no lasting marks on his body or psyche. And finally, we have to believe that Reacher has stumbled—yet again—into an enormity through pure happenstance.
We have to believe, in other words, what no one can believe.
Usually, Child drives the story forward so expertly that we go along with the make-believe. He doesn’t do so in Make Me, however…at least not in my opinion. Reacher’s reason for being on the scene is thin. The plot takes a while to develop. When it does, there are too many moving parts. In sum, Make Me is not the best of the Reacher novels. Child’s formula simply didn’t work for me this time.
It saddens me to write a negative review about the latest installment in what is easily one of the best long-running series in contemporary American fiction. I’d like to report a far more positive experience. But I can’t.
Still, the good news is this: Reacher survives. He’ll be back. And I’ll be waiting to turn the pages once again…
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