Monday, June 09, 2008

The author we can't stop reading

We didn't get much done around the house this weekend because Lee Child has a new book out. I stopped by the bookstore Friday night, bought a copy, walked in the front door, said "This is how much I love you" and handed it to my wife to read first.

I'm romantic that way.

Lee Child will not be winning the Nobel Prize for literature. He writes thrillers. But they are tremendous thrillers -- smart, sexy, powerful, thoughtful. The hero, Jack Reacher, has the skills of Jason Bourne and the body of Howie Long. He roams the country with nothing more than an ATM card and a toothbrush. If people would just leave him alone, things would be fine. People tend not to leave him alone. Broken bones result.

Genre books -- mysteries, thrillers, horror, Westerns -- are tricky business. They have to feel familiar and surprise you at the same time. That's a high degree of difficulty and the reason why the authors who get it right can sleep on stacks of hundred-dollar bills.

The single greatest blurb in the history of books was written for Lee Child by Malcolm Gladwell, who has written some great books himself. It captures exactly how I feel. Here's the blurb:

"I started out reading Lee Child in paperback. Then I realized I couldn't wait and started buying his books in hardcover. Now I call around to my publishing friends, and make them send me the galleys. My next step is to break into Lee Child's house and watch over his shoulder while he types. "

If I ever write a book I'll be begging Malcolm Gladwell for a blurb.

Our household book report on Lee's latest, "Nothing to Lose": Wife started Friday night and finished Saturday afternoon. I started Saturday night and finished Sunday afternoon. It was a great weekend.


hipQuest said...

Tommy, you and your wife both need a Kindle. You could have both been reading the book at the same time.

tommy tomlinson said...

So I take it you've got one? What's it like?

hipQuest said...

I do have one and can't imagine what I would do if it was damaged. It's wonderful. It does exactly what it was designed to do-allow a user to take their library with them and closely emulate the look of a "real" book page. I's very light and easy to use.

Your Lee Child book cost $9.99 and can be shared (as all Kindle editions can) by up to six Kindles on your account. You could've had your book on June 3rd and avoided getting in and out of the car in this heat. ;)

I've met with several people in the past 2 weeks that wanted to see a Kindle up close before buying. 3 of them now own Kindles.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD, how much do I love Lee Child and Jack Reacher!!!? I am dying for someone to make a movie and am always speculating who would play the tall Reacher who only carries a toothbrush as he ambles from town to town helping any damsel in distress.

Anonymous said...

I, too, love Lee Child and can't put his books down (and I dearly love a book I can't put down because it gives me an excuse not to do housework or laundry!). I just forwarded your column to friends of mine who are huge fans, as well. As usual, a superb piece of writing on your part, too.

Anonymous said...

I have a Kindle, too, and I don't know what I would do without it. It's the greatest thing since the book itself. This Lee Child book sounds good. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for letting us know about it.

Anonymous said...

Got turned on to Child last year. Read every book and can not believe how compulsive his writing is. If you haven't read him, start with the first book "Killing Floor." Otherwise you'll read the latest and then go back to the beginning. No one reads just one.

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Lee Child fan, but his latest effort is a big disappointment. My thoughts are shared by many reviewers on the Amazon site.

Anonymous said...


My wife and I have also become Lee Child fans after one was left on a plane. However, we both found "Nothing to Lose" became tedious. Not up to Child's usual air-tight story lines. We won't stop reading, though.