Book Review: Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child

My husband and I have been reading Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child for almost 20 years now. Although I never read two Jack Reacher novels in a row, I still enjoy dipping into one now and then. My husband, who does enjoy reading every book in a series one after another until he's read all of the available books, has long since closed the book on Jack Reacher, so to speak, but as you can see, I've still got a long way to go with this 20+ book series. 

Bad Luck and Trouble (Jack Reacher #11) by Lee Child

The cover of Bad Luck and Trouble has a red background on which circles from a bullet target are drawn in black
Publisher: Delacourt, 2007
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Dick Hill

“From a helicopter high above the empty California desert, a man is sent free-falling into the night…. In Chicago, a woman learns that an elite team of ex–army investigators is being hunted down one by one…. And on the streets of Portland, Jack Reacher—soldier, cop, hero—is pulled out of his wandering life by a code that few other people could understand. From the first shocking scenes in Lee Child’s explosive new novel, Jack Reacher is plunged like a knife into the heart of a conspiracy that is killing old friends…and is on its way to something even worse.

“A decade postmilitary, Reacher has an ATM card and the clothes on his back—no phone, no ties, and no address. But now a woman from his old unit has done the impossible. From Chicago, Frances Neagley finds Reacher, using a signal only the eight members of their elite team of army investigators would know. She tells him a terrifying story—about the brutal death of a man they both served with. Soon Reacher is reuniting with the survivors of his old team, scrambling to raise the living, bury the dead, and connect the dots in a mystery that is growing darker by the day. The deeper they dig, the more they don’ t know: about two other comrades who have suddenly gone missing—and a trail that leads into the neon of Vegas and the darkness of international terrorism.

“For now, Reacher can only react. To every sound. Every suspicion. Every scent and every moment. Then Reacher will trust the people he once trusted with his life—and take this thing all the way to the end. Because in a world of bad luck and trouble, when someone targets Jack Reacher and his team, they’d better be ready for what comes right back at them…”

(Excerpt from the book description on Goodreads)

What I thought

Reacher novels are wonderfully consistent. Reacher is always the toughest guy in the room, always accomplishes his goal, is almost always the best tactician in the situation, never carries more than a toothbrush, always ditches his current shirt when he buys a new one, never has a steady job, always remains loyal to his personal code. 

In Bad Luck and Trouble, Reacher’s squad of investigators from his army days run into a spot of trouble out west. Several of them are killed before Reacher gets wind of it, and Reacher and the remaining members of his old team work together to find out what’s going on and how a set of podunk security folks could have gotten the better of their former teammates. 

It turns out to be much bigger than it first appears, of course, because that’s also part of the formula. I realize that the constant references to a formula I make it sound like I don’t really enjoy these books. I do, but only when I’m looking for a specific type of entertainment. 

Although the feel of the two book series is very different, I enjoy reading Jack Reacher novels for the same reason I enjoy reading the Pendergast mystery series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The characterization and problem sets in these novels are so very consistent, I know exactly what I’ll be getting when I crack one open. There is a definite comfort to that, especially for those times when I need a book with a predictably sized emotional payload. 

Who would enjoy this book

  • Readers who enjoy mystery/thrillers with ex-military protagonists

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