Tripwire by Lee Child

Pros: Eventually, the story becomes fascinating, with lots of intriguing aspects.

Cons: But you have to get through the slow start.

I almost gave up on Tripwire by Lee Child.  The first third of the book was brutal – slow, meandering, without any clear direction. But then something amazing happened – the real story finally started to come through, and the book became fascinating.

The first third of the book establishes the characters, but does little else.  You have Jack Reacher, the main character in several of Child’s books.  He’s ex-military, a drifter who keeps himself separate from the rest of mankind.  And we meet Hook Hobie, a villain who relishes in doling pain to his victims, all in the name of one word: Money.  And for the longest time we don’t really have a clue how these two will meet, or what story will eventually start to fall into place.

But stick with the slow beginning, and you’ll be rewarded.  Because eventually the details emerge.  Reacher will be asked to help a kindly, older couple.  They’ve been grieving for thirty years, for a son officially listed as missing in action, but presumed dead.  But with no body, and no details about what really happened to their son, the parents are stuck in limbo.  So Reacher will do all he can to try to help them discover the truth.  Along the way, he will be reunited with Jodie, a woman from his past, a woman who might just convince him to give up his reclusive ways.

And we’ll learn a whole lot more about Hook Hobie and his “business practices”.  We’ll get into the heads of his latest victims, and learn just how far someone will go, in the name of the almighty dollar.

And, eventually, the stories will converge in one very exciting, and satisfying conclusion.

Yes, this book definitely got better, after the first hundred or so pages.

In fact, I’d call this story “fascinating” as I was very interested to see how it would all end.  Especially as we start to learn of various forces working to help keep Reacher in the dark, regarding the fate of that young man.  We ache for the parents who just want to know the truth – whatever it may be.  

And, while I normally don’t care for romance angles tossed into mysteries/thrillers, I have to give credit in this book.  Jodie and Reacher are amazing together, and I felt there could be a real change in Reacher’s personality, a change that would make him a much more enjoyable character.  And, I’m happy to report that Child spared us from tons of graphic sex.  He allowed Jodie and Reacher to enjoy their new friendship without forcing a bunch of “bedroom details” on us.  In a book such as this, that deals with tragedy, pain, and torture, I prefer to keep the sex scenes to a minimum.  So, thanks, Mr. Child!

But, while Child spared us from a ton of sex, he made up for it, when it comes to violence.  This book is not for the faint of heart.  Hook Hobie is one nasty bad guy, and Child lets us know, in glaring detail, just how much pain he’s willing to dole.  And the fact that he enjoys it so much just makes it even creepier to read.  

On the other hand, what really impressed me about this book is the character development.  Even though this is my first Jack Reacher novel, I felt like I got to “know” him.  And I loved how he grew from beginning to end, into someone far more likeable than he started out.  I liked Jodie immediately, and hope she’ll stick around through future novels.  

So, if violence is not your cup of tea, you might want to pass on this one.  But if you can stand the violence, and can live with a very slow start, I recommend this book.  The story is quite intriguing, and the ending quite satisfying.

Also by Lee Child:

The Enemy

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