The Affair by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As my second book in the Jack Reacher series (although #16 in publication and a prequel in sequence), The Affair wasn't a shabby audio read at all. The narrator Dick Hill has a terse, noirish delivery that adds to the story. He sounds a bit older than I would associate with Reacher, but he definitely has Reacher's 'you ain't the boss of me' attitude and conveys his ruthless, efficient approach to solving injustices. I think he is a good choice to narrate for the Jack Reacher books. I do have to admit that I was giggling like a schoolgirl on the love scenes. I can't help it. Audiobook love scenes always strike me that way, and especially with an older male narrator who sort of gave them a 'dirty old man' vibe!
It's interesting. This seems like a simplistic storyline, but when everything came together, it wasn't. The Affair is the story of small town secrets tied in with the bigger and murkier waters of powerful people who feel the impunity to do whatever they want. Child kept me guessing. I went back and forth about what was going on and who was behind it. He really had me going and thinking that the killer was someone I really didn't want it to be. In the end, I was like, "So that's not the killer?" That was well done.
Child has an interesting way of being very brisk about describing some aspects of his narrative, but descriptive in a vivid, emotive way about others. I felt immersed in this small town with its racial divisions, brutal poverty and a seething sense of injustice that comes from the eternal 'haves versus the have nots'. As it does to Reacher, injustice sits heavy on my stomach, so even though Reacher can be highly ruthless, in a way it's a rewarding thing to know that there is an avenging angel out there at least in the fictional world to fight for those who have been disenfranchised and denied of their rights and their voices. I suppose that's why Reacher is around. When you have these kinds of situations with so much brutality and casual discarding of lives, it makes you want a meaty fist of vengeance like Reacher who is there to clean up the mess. His descriptions of Army/military life also grabbed my interest. I don't know if he got all that right, but it sounded plausible to me. At least some of the governmental parts struck a familiar note.
Reacher is an interesting character. He's really kind of a basic sort. His view of life is so simple and without the extra qualifiers that most characters seem to have. He understands authority, but he also has a habit of doing what he thinks is right even if that's against the dictates of authority.
Sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux was an intriguing character. Ex-marine and sheriff of Carter's Crossing, the daughter of the long-term sheriff. She's a bit of a study in contrasts. The romance between Reacher and Deveraux was fairly basic, although Child effectively conveys the attraction and mutual respect between them. Neither is a good bet for a long-term relationship, but I still wished that things might work out in that direction (view spoiler)[(even knowing this is a prequel so that wasn't in the cards) (hide spoiler)].
The Affair was a good book, but I felt an emptiness when it ended. I don't know if it was just the stripped down nature of the overall plot or that I felt unsatisfied with the overall nature of things that went down. It bothered me to see those people die like that and how it was handled. And while Reacher did what he could to make things right, it doesn't bring those people back, or prevent it from happening again. And Reacher pays a heavy price in the end to do what he did, or maybe for being the kind of man he is. Was that a deliberate thing on Child's part? Maybe. Overall, a pretty good book that I'd recommend to fans of thriller/suspense and kickbutt heroes.
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