Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Jack Reacher”

Book review: The Devil’s Country by Harry Hunsicker

The Devil's CountryThe Devil’s Country by Harry Hunsicker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Has there ever been a religious cult started for something other than allowing the leaders to have sex with the congregation?

Arlo Baines is wandering the state of Texas in an effort to forget the murder of his family. The former Texas Ranger sees a couple of guys up to no good, and starts making trouble in the neighbourhood. He gets in one little fight and has the local sheriff and a religious cult wanting to see him leave (for Bel Air).

It was refreshing to dive into a different take on the itinerant vigilante genre. Obviously there are similarities between any of the novels in this genre, the most prominent being Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series (of which I’m a fan). But Harry Hunsicker has brought a more haunted and reluctant hero to the page, one who feels a little more vulnerable, but no less unstoppable.

This is a fast-moving novel which hits all the right beats. While it doesn’t stray from the itinerant vigilante genre path, nor offer up any surprising twists, The Devil’s Country was an enjoyable read. Recommended for any fans of Lee Child, Matt Hilton, Zoe Sharp, et al.

NB: I received an advance review copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

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Book review: Make Me by Lee Child

Make Me (Jack Reacher, #20)Make Me by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Does Reacher leave enough people alive to have criminals warning one another on the Deep Web about not messing with him?

Jack Reacher decided to catch a train to a small town for a change and by walking around as per usual he managed to piss off the local criminals. This will end well for the criminals.

Lee Child is a master of not wasting words. If there is exposition then it is important to the plot. Make Me is no exception. The twist for this thriller is revealed in little details throughout the story. It comes through as no less shocking.

While I have grown a little tired of the formula for the Reacher novels, they still remain entertaining reads.

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Book Review: Personal by Lee Child

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19)Personal by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jack Reacher fought a little person in 61 Hours, so definitely time he fought a giant in Personal. Oh, and some other stuff happens… like beating up a giant!

Lee Child’s continued adventures of Sherlock Homeless – Jack Reacher – have reached (boom tish) their nineteenth installment. Reacher is manipulated into searching for a former army sniper he had put away 16 years ago, a sniper who has taken a shot at the French President and is threatening to shoot some other world leaders at the G8 summit. This is the first Reacher novel that isn’t set in the US, seeing him travel to Paris and London, for his manhunt. Of course, it is never as simple as a manhunt, especially when the sniper bears a 16 year old grudge.

What I love about picking up a Lee Child novel is starting the novel and finding I’m already 50 pages into the action before I realise it. Lee effortlessly steers you through the story and keeps you entertained. He makes you appreciate just how good an author he is compared to his contemporaries. It was also refreshing to have Reacher leave behind his small town problem solving in favour of an international, high stakes, manhunt. Not that this stops Reacher beating up people and solving problems: wouldn’t be a Reacher novel without that.

Hard to find fault with the latest Reacher adventure. The only criticism would be that it feels like a “standard” Reacher adventure, despite the break in location tradition. My own observation is that since 61 Hours Lee’s writing has become taut and that he skilfully plays with the reader, making him my favourite author.

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Lying about books you’ve (not) read

book-pic

As with most things Hank and John Green are involved with, I have become a fan of Mentalfloss. Their recent article on embarrassing things we all do was interesting, but had one point in it that made me think “what the hell is wrong with you people”.

By “you people” I obviously mean it in the pejorative dissociative sense, in that I’m not having a shot at you, or Mentalfloss, just the ubiquitous and ethereal “them” and “you”. Unless of course what I’m about to write does hit home, in which case, stop it now!

One of the items listed as an embarrassing thing that everyone does, was people claiming to have read books and watched movies they haven’t in order to appear more intelligent. I have previously discussed the list of books people claim to have read and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve haven’t read certain “classics”. I do have to admit to having claimed to have read a book I haven’t, To Kill a Mockingbird (still on my TBR pile), but that is also why I’m coming out against the practice.

And that is the point I wish to make here, there is no shame in not having read a classic book or watched a classic film. Maybe you don’t like extraordinarily long and self-indulgent wedding scenes in a movie (Deer Hunter). Maybe you don’t like novels with more than 450 main characters (War and Peace has over 500). There isn’t any shame in that. And how many “classics” have gone unread because they were in the wrong language, poorly translated, never got published, or just lucked out (John Green made mention of this recently).

Essentially we are worried about our subjective taste disagreeing with someone else’s subjective taste. The stupidity here is that we are being judged for something we haven’t done, rather than a strong opinion one way or the other on the actual topic. If we came out and said “Well, I hated 1984, it was rubbish” or conversely “Well, I loved 1984, and anyone who says it’s rubbish is a poo-poo head” we’d get into deep arguments about the relative merits of the novel. That is perfectly acceptable. But if we say “I haven’t read that one (yet)” or “Never seen it” then the response is something along the lines of calling us crazy, implying we have lived too sheltered a life, and/or that we have missed out on something great.

They could be right, of course. We may have missed out on the single most impressive book or movie ever. Our lives may be dramatically improved by reading or watching the work in question.

Or not.

The reality is that it really doesn’t matter. Some people will never have enjoyed a Jack Reacher adventure, or clung to the edge of their seat reading a Matthew Reilly novel, because they have been busy reading all the “great literary works”. Who is to say that their choice of entertainment was superior? Some people prefer to watch sports: are they any less entertained?

I think we have to stop pretending that our subjective opinions are something to be ashamed of. Like what you like, don’t be ashamed to say so either. I’m always amazed at the number of closeted Buffy fans there are, which only shows how damaging this mindset of “worthiness” is.

From Cracked.com

From Cracked.com

Mini-me Jack Reacher sequel announced

According to a reliable source – well, a book blog for a bookstore I like – there is a sequel in the works for Jack Reacher.

That’s right, Tom Cruise will be reprising his role as Jack Reacher. It is unclear whether he’ll wear stilts in this adaptation of Never Go Back, the most recent Reacher adventure. For a reminder of the first Reacher film:

It seems odd to me for Cruise et al. to leap so far forward in the series, the previous movie being based upon the Lee Child novel One Shot. I’d have said there are some fantastic novels in between that would make fantastic movies, even with a half-sized Reacher.

The first movie was kinda average. The story was faithfully adapted, with the changes making sense, Cruise brought his star power, but I don’t have any kind words for his co-stars, who were generally flat and lifeless. So the “sequel” really needs to be better cast….. Maybe fill the cast with good child actors to get the star’s proportions right.

Either way, I’ll watch it.

Random comments

I appreciate all of my friends/readers here, especially those who take the time to comment. My site statistics tell me that I average roughly 2 comments per post, which is a 4% conversation rate. My own posting on other’s blogs wouldn’t be that high, so I’m fine with that figure, I’m just happy people enjoy my posts.

The point of this post is to highlight my own experiences with some of the more interesting comments this blog receives. The site statistics tell me that I average roughly 640 spam comments per month. PER MONTH! Obviously some of those spam comments may be legitimate comments, if you have fallen prey of my spam filter please email me, but most are rubbish promoting some shoe-viagra-porn-dating-retail site or other. The ones that quote Bible and Quran verses are interesting, but this recent response to my review of Lee Child’s latest novel blew me away.

Lee Child
Dear Sir,
I just finished reading your latest novel, A Wanted Man. Congratulations. Yet another excellent work.
I thought you might find it interesting regarding why I like your stories. These are the reasons:
• I never find a word I do not know the meaning of, and is not part of ordinary speech.
• The story takes place in normal time sequence. No flashbacks.
• A single central character carries the action from the first to the last page.
• I find not one sentence, which is not designed to help tell the story. You never stray.
• I find no forced metaphors that I have to puzzle over to discover their meaning.
• I find no literary actions-verbs that may sound pretty or poetic but make no literal sense.
• None of the characters are wooden.
• All your stories are unique.
• I find no explicit sex included because you can’t think of what should happen next.
• The number of characters is limited.
Keep up the good work.
Jim Cunnungham

Now I am very much a fan of Lee Child’s writing, I have most of his novels on my shelves. I am also working on becoming a published author of crime thrillers, but I don’t think I could be mistaken with Lee Child. For one, I’m not as tall as Lee, he is quite a bit older and he’s English. So addressing this comment to Lee on my blog seems rather random.

After congratulating not-me on a great novel, Jim proceeds to list the things he likes about not-me’s writing. Jim likes not having to use a dictionary, or reading internet addresses or review author names. Jim also doesn’t like flashbacks and appreciates having a single character to follow, clearly much less complicated than having to think whilst reading. I agree with Jim that Lee doesn’t delve into the literary realms with his prose, keeping the story and writing tight. It makes for a much more interesting read; there is nothing worse than wasting your valuable reading time with random stuff that has nothing to do with what you actually want to read. Jim also appreciates the building materials used in creating characters, something I don’t normally consider, but I do like to read things that are unique and stand out. However, I wonder what Jim has against sex scenes, maybe he has been scarred by Fifty Shades of Hype and is just thankful that Reacher doesn’t whip out the ball gag and leather chaps. I’m also guessing that Jim is not a fan of the epic fantasy novels, what with their ensemble of characters, sweeping dynasties of timelines, and elegant prose to describe the entire new world the story takes place in.

All in all, I can’t figure out why this post was flagged as spam.

Book Review: A Wanted Man by Lee Child

A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, #17)A Wanted Man by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book arrived on my doorstep from the lovely people at Booktopia, just in time for me to read over the weekend. Unfortunately last weekend also coincided with the arrival of my son, damn stork was early, so my reading was interrupted. Normally a Reacher adventure can’t be put down, but my new bub showed that sometimes you have to.

Reviewing Lee’s new novel is hard, my interrupted reading, sleep deprivation and cuddle time has clouded my impression of the book. Reacher still kicked arse, the story was decent and Lee’s characteristic tight plotting was on display.

I’m only giving this 4 stars for now, with the intention of re-reading it sometime after I’ve had a decent nights sleep.

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Book Review: One Shot by Lee Child

One Shot (Jack Reacher, #9)One Shot by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is something really great about Lee Child’s novels. There is also something about Jack Reacher that we all just know Tom Cruise is not going to be able to deliver on screen.

The last book I read took me 10 days to read. That is a long time for a thriller. This one took me 2 days to read. Clearly Lee serves up a more engaging and involving story, a novel that I will actually make excuses to stay up and read, rather than check my email and go to bed.

It will be interesting to see how Tom Cruise and Hollywood adapt this story for the big screen. This isn’t the sort of plot that would be easy to adapt unless you left half of it out. Not that I would accuse Hollywood of butchering just about every book to movie project they have every done. Never.

Read this one before Cruise brings his step-ladder and this novel to the big screen in December.

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Jack Reacher One Shot Movie

Jack Reacher – 1:2 scale

As any Lee Child and Jack Reacher fan knows by now, Tom Cruise is bringing the book One Shot to the big screen. What some may not be aware of is that Hollywood has had a few financial issues of late. They’ve had to scale back productions and advertising. Paramount Pictures didn’t want to cut back on advertising or budget for the Reacher film, so they halved the size of the main character – Jack Reacher 6’5″ 220-250lbs, Tom Cruise 5’7″ 147lbs.

The good news is that Reacher has been bumped up the release schedule and will be coming out in cinemas in December. This should be great for Lee Child fans, especially as A Wanted Man, the new Reacher novel, will have been released a month prior.

Lets hope that they film Cruise from some very low angles, because I want to see Reacher kick some ass!

Intelligent life

You may all think that I’m primarily a crime thriller kinda guy, a lot of the book reviews I post here are for crime, crime thrillers and thrillers. My current work in progress is also a crime thriller. So I clearly fit into a very neat little box created out of stacks of James Patterson releases for the month. But I like a lot of genres, I think most readers do, in fact I’d go as far as to say that all readers read more than one genre unless they are still battling with Where’s Waldo.

Needless to say, despite my current work – and several others in the pipeline – being crime thrillers, I have several outlines for stories in other genres. One of my first big ideas – quite literally, as I have a 50 page synopsis and several instalments plotted – was for a sci-fi story. Think Jack Reacher crossed with Jet Li (Did you know Jet Li is a real life hero?) inspired by Heinlein. Anyway, the main character, Caleb, is the last of his kind and is trying to save humans from themselves, whether that be leading a civil war, or deposing dictators at the various human colonies. Of course there have to be aliens in space.

The problem I’ve always had with aliens in books and movies is that they are too much like us. On Star Trek they could even pass for us, as long as they wore a headband.
But it isn’t just that they look so much like us, why would aliens even think of us as awesome? Would humans be actually interesting to aliens? If aliens are watching our broadcasts you could just about guarantee that they don’t consider any of the life on this planet intelligent.

Alien: So you consider your race intelligent?
Human: Why yes.
Alien: Explain Glenn Beck.
Human: Okay, some of us aren’t as…
Alien: And you dig up stored gases to change your atmosphere so that it wrecks your climate.
Human: But we needed fuel for power. We’ve got solutions to that now.
Alien: One word: Politicians.
Human: Please don’t wipe out our planet!

So in my alien research for my novel/s I finally found inspiration. Who better to inspire me than Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins?*

See the rest of the discussion between Dawkins and DeGrasse here.

*Yes Carl Sagan would be inspirational too, but he isn’t in the video.

Book to movie

If there is any one thing that Hollywood does well, it is taking terrific books and turning them into terrible movies. When was the last time someone said “Well the movie was better than the book”?

I’ve opined on this issue before: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher; why movie studios bother with buying a book when they make a movie that doesn’t resemble the book in any way.

And here it is happening again:

Any movie starring Katherine Heigl is always doomed. She ranked in my article on actresses you don’t want in you book adaptation. Clearly Janet Evanovich signed the movie rights before she read my article. So you have to ask what is happening in Hollywood, aside from the hookers and blow?

Clearly the first thing that is happening is the movie rights. Author agents are clearly trying to make some money for their authors so that the author can give up the day job and write more. Sorry, that should read, they want a commission. The movie studio hands over some spare change they have lying around and grab the book. Then they ask a script writer to give them a script, usually in the same amount of time it would take the script writer to actually read the book. So the script writer hands over a script they already have lying around, after changing a few of the character names to match. The studio then launders finds some money from “business associates” to start casting and shooting. The casting agent looks at the budget and sorts through the least desperate actors in the appropriate pay scale, to find the person who least embodies the main characters.

By the time the movie hits cinemas there have only been two people in the entire process who realise the movie is based upon a book, one of whom may have read it. This, of course, doesn’t really matter because the ten people who have read the book that go to see the movie are sitting in a packed cinema with people who don’t read and are generally confused by plots that can’t be explained in a one-to-two sentence monologue from a minor character.

Clearly Hollywood knows what it is doing, I mean, they cast Tom Cruise as Lestat. And authors love getting money from Hollywood, they can actually afford to pay the rent that month. So maybe it is time writers started writing for Hollywood. Oh wait, they already do that….

Men don’t cry

Real men hide their feelings. Why?
Because it’s none of your fuckin’ business!
Men do not cry. Men do not pout. Men jack you in the fuckin’ jaw and say…
Thanks for comin’ out.

Being a man is largely frowned upon in our society these days. Yet, in the movies, books, even some TV shows, real men are revered. Clint Eastwood made a career out of being a man. Lee Child created Jack Reacher, a man for men and women. Even Hollywood is catching on now and having their boyish stars grow some stubble to look more like men, although Ryan Reynolds can pull off the boyish look as long as he wants.

Things you won’t hear a real man say:
Yes I would like to watch a romantic comedy.
Twilight is a terrific film series based on some fantastic novels.
I have no idea what this sport is about.
I will stop and ask for directions.
So we went back to her place and hugged.

Book Review: The Affair by Lee Child

The Affair (Jack Reacher, #16)The Affair by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was a little perturbed when I found out this year’s Reacher novel would be a prequel to the series. Since Killing Floor, Lee Child has evolved Reacher into a one man wrecking ball for truth, justice and hot women. Reacher has essentially become Superman without the need for external underwear and the ability to actually have a broken nose. This doesn’t exactly mesh with the Reacher before his adventures in Killing Floor.

This aside, Lee has served up another fantastic Reacher tale. The mystery unfolds, the intertwining clues and events are right there for you to pick up on and only implicitly used later – something I like about Lee’s writing. Reacher makes good use of the local train and his characteristic walking everywhere is in no short supply. In short, this is another fine Reacher novel.

Despite having pre-ordered this book it didn’t arrive until quite a while after its release date, something that has annoyed me for several books now (Matt Hilton’s Dead Men’s Harvest arrived late, Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves still hasn’t arrived). It was worth the wait though, as 50 pages in I was reminded why I had pre-ordered The Affair in the first place. I’d hazard a guess and say that next year’s releases by my favourite authors are more likely to be received on their release date, straight onto my Kindle, just as soon as Amazon starts selling the new Kindle Touch outside of the US (bastards!).

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