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3/5/2012 8:03:00 AM
Between the Lines: I'm a 'Reacher Creature'
Joe Neri
Book Talk

No, I'm not a character out of a bad horror flick (contrary to what some may think!).

I'm a big fan of bestselling mystery/suspense author Lee Child and his unique protagonist Jack Reacher. Child and Reacher are phenomenally popular throughout the world and their legions of fans are known as Reacher Creatures.

Child is a former British television director (Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker) who began writing novels in the mid-1990's. His first Reacher book - Killing Floor - was published in 1997 and made him an instant international success. The sixteenth book in the series - The Affair - was published a few months ago.

Reacher is an ex-Army MP, a complete loner who is off the grid and travels around the United States with only a little cash and a toothbrush in his pocket. He wears his clothes for a maximum of three days, then buys new clothes and throws the old ones away. He either walks or takes a bus to wherever he's going - no car, no cell phone, no credit cards, no computer.

He tries to mind his own business but trouble just seems to follow him wherever he goes. And that is what makes him such a great protagonist - he's reluctant to get involved but his sense of right and wrong always has him saving victims and fighting bad guys. It doesn't hurt that he's 6'5" and 250 pounds and has been trained in every form of armed and unarmed combat!

Some people shy away from the crime fiction genre, believing it to be too violent. But I think these people might be missing the point. Mystery and suspense books are not really about the crime, be it murder or something else.

They are about justice, about good vs. evil, about right vs. wrong. Rarely in our real lives do we get to see true justice being done, yet a 300-plus page book can give it to us right in our own homes.

Genre fiction tends to go in cycles and it appears that crime fiction, and all of its sub-genres, is once again on the way up in terms of popularity and readership. This isn't surprising given the plethora of crime-solving shows on television - everything from Law and Order to CSI to NCIS and many, many more.

Almost always, the bad guy gets what he deserves by the end of the book or the end of the show, and we feel better.

Next up for Child and Reacher is a movie being made of One Shot, another of the Reacher series novels. The only potential problem is that Tom Cruise has been cast to play Jack Reacher. Now Cruise is a competent enough actor but he's going to have to grow 7-8 inches and gain 70-80 pounds to make this believeable!

We'll see ... the Reacher Creatures are watching!

Joe Neri is the co-owner of The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona. He can be contacted at (928) 282-2284 or

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LB - Coldwell Banker 1019

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