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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Binge-Reading: Lee Child and Daniel Silva

Lee Child and Daniel Silva Jack reacher gabriel allon


It seems like every summer or thereabouts, I get into this binge-reading mode where every spare time is devoted to feverishly finishing one  novel after another till I am saturated for the time being.

The key is "spare time" - viz., time not spent working 9 to 5, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring - but includes time when I am eating. Yep! The house rule is that when one is eating alone at the table, one can have their book for company on weekends. Weekdays are a blur, so dining together is a luxury we enjoy. Although reading while eating is technically a no-no in our house, I have set up loopholes which my daughter has discovered lately.

Anyway, of late, I've read one Jack Reacher novel after another, in no particular order. Starting with Personal, I went backwards a bit, and then decided to read them as and when I could get my hands on one.

Of course, commercial/pulp crime thriller is a sweeping label, but, there are well-written crime novels and there are poorly-written crime novels. Jack Reacher novels fall in the brilliantly-paced always-a-can't-put-me-down category for me.

I was skeptical when I picked up Personal on a whim. It was on my To Read list since its release early this year, along with other Jack Reacher novels.

I am not for scouring the Best Sellers list often and reading them all within 3 months of release date and discussing it avidly among fellow fans and such. I'll read the books at my own pace and at my own time of choosing, when my lifestyle allows such luxuries on and off.

And cosmically, the binge-reading bug bit me at the same time that Personal showed up in Parent Book Exchange shelf at my kids' school a few weeks ago. I snatched it up for my "car book" right then.

I have a book in my lunch bag, "the lunch book" (which currently is Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz), to read at lunch time in the lunch room at work. I have another in the car, "the car book", when I am waiting in the car to pick up the kids and chauffeur them as needed (which currently is A Wanted Man by Lee Child). Another book nestles in my backpack, "the bag book" (which for a few weeks has been Forget Me Not by Fern Michaels, with slow progress). Plus about 3 or 4 sit on my nightstand (which happen to be  Jack Reacher and Gabriel Allon books for now.)

On any given day, there may be 2 or 3 books that I am "currently reading"...

Over the last 3 weeks, in my spare time, I've managed to read a few Jack Reacher Novels:

  1. Personal
  2. Never Go Back
  3. The Affair
  4. Bad Luck and Trouble
  5. 61 Hours
I remember feeling a certain strong and favorable emotion for Jason Bourne back in my youth when I read them with starry eyes. After a long time, I can admit to feeling the same strong and favorable emotion for Jack Reacher now.

While some Reacher novels are in first person, I like the omniscient third person narratives better. Through Reacher's lines, we start shaping an image of him that fits our requirements. One might object to the overtly technical elements in physical confrontations that the author, Lee Child, tends to throw out frequently, but, it is relevant and sophisticated nevertheless, and it establishes Reacher's pedantic nature and his precise actions.

I also read a bunch of Daniel Silva. The two older Michael Osborne novels - The Mark of the Assassin and The Marching Season - appealed to me a bit more than the later Gabriel Allon ones. I've read the first four of Gabriel Allon, plus The Messenger. And so far, Allon is not evoking the same strong and positive emotion that Jack Reacher is evoking in me, that Jason Bourne originally fired up in me.

Silva's book are intelligent and well-researched, with just enough of the improbable to keep it interesting. Not quite as intense as a Dan Brown but certainly not as boorish as a James Patterson either. However, Silva's books could use some tight editing, and a change in the narrator's tone that doesn't come across as pompous and high-handed -- it gets rather tedious and meandering at times, leading off in paths that have no relevance to how the plot ties up in the end.

I used to devour Robert Ludlum, Alistair MacLean, John le Carre, Frederick Forsythe in my youth. While crime thriller, espionage, and mystery are not my top genre anymore, I have constantly read a fair share of them over the years only to be saddened by the deteriorating standards in presentation and the formulaic plot points.

For now, I am all set for a few more weeks with Reacher and Allon, and they all promise to be a satisfying read.


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