The Enemy by Lee Child

Pros: Decent story and satisfying ending

Cons: Had to wade through too much to get there

Lee Child’s The Enemy contains some very good stuff.  Too bad you have to wade through so much dull stuff to find the gems.

The Enemy is the eighth book in the Jack Reacher series.  Written in 2004, Child takes us back in time, to the first few weeks of 1990. The Berlin wall has just come down.  The cold war is over, and the US Army sees a drastic reduction of resources up ahead.  After all, the World is at peace, what do we need a giant army for?  (Of course, knowing what we now know, this seems unbelievably naïve, but in the beginning of 1990, the world looked very different than it does today).  In any case, a bunch of people are about to lose their jobs, and this makes some people very unhappy.

Reacher was happily on assignment in Panama when he’s suddenly called back to the States.  Immediately, he’s drawn into the investigation of a two-star general who died in a seedy motel, where he presumably met a prostitute.  Reacher notices that the general’s ever-present briefcase is missing.  Reacher comes to find out that the briefcase contained the agenda for a top-secret meeting.  Worse, the general’s wife is found dead mere hours later. 

What could that meeting’s agenda possibly contain that’s worth killing over?

This is the premise, and I admit I was intrigued. 

But The Enemy is a 500 page book containing a story that really filled 250 pages.  The rest was fluff.  Utter nonsense.  Long passages where absolutely nothing happens.  Descriptions of scenery, ridiculous conversations, and over-long thoughts in our protagonist’s head.  Just a bunch of dull stuff that you have to get through, in order to get through the story.

As for the actual story, that was pretty good.  Child does a good job of slipping us small clues along the way, but saving most of the good stuff for the end.  And the ending was quite satisfying.  At least, having made my way through those 500 pages, I wasn’t disappointed!  There’s also a subplot involving Reacher’s mother, that was very interesting, and some very good insights into Reacher’s personality that set the tone for future books in the series.

Overall, I would give The Enemy high marks for the story, but low marks for the dull writing surrounding that story.  So, we’ll have to settle on 2.5 stars.  Just below average.


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