I found listening to the first two Reacher novels soothing, Child’s sparse, almost documentary-style prose with its focus on facts and street names and physical routines, combined with McClain’s calm but never dull voice, create a rhythm that I enjoy.
I also like the idea that Reacher is the competent but detached alpha male who will punish evil-doers and save the beautiful woman, even though we all know he won’t stay with her.
“Tripwire” is darker and more serious than its predecessors. The serious side of the book allows for the fact that when drifting becomes a conscious choice, it is a rejection of the world that suggests something is broken. It presents the possibility of Reacher staying with the girl and even having somewhere of his own for them both to stay. It asks the question whether Reacher can do that and still stay Reacher. All good stuff that makes Reacher more real.
The darker side of the book spoiled it for me. The evil-doer in this book gets off on inflicting humiliation and pain. The pain mostly takes place “off camera”, for which I was grateful but the humiliation is described in great detail. It is convincing and completely repulsive. It’s not gratuitous. It drives the story and it is not glorified but it left me feeling angry and soiled and degraded by my own voyeurism.
This is a tribute to Child’s writing but it violated the expectations I came to the book with and filled my head with things I’d rather not give house room to.
I’ll try one more Reacher book, but if this focus on the anatomy of evil continues, I will look for my entertainment elsewhere.
If you’d like to listen to an extract from “Tripwire”, click on the SoundCloud link below: