Reviews for Better Off Dead

by Lee Child and Andrew Child

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Jack Reacher goes on an energy-packed tear in this latest adventure by Child & Child. Killing off your protagonist nearly from the get-go is a hell of an attention-getter, even if the reader knows it can’t be true. Ex–military cop Reacher watches Michaela Fenton kill two men as she searches for her twin brother, Michael, and of course Reacher can’t not get involved. Michaela feels responsible for Michael’s apparent death and says, “I’d be better off dead,” a sentiment Reacher discourages. The criminal she fears most “only breaks cover when someone who was a threat to him is dead,” so Reacher stages his own fake murder and is shipped to the morgue. But fans of his fists needn’t fret, as he has plenty of occasion to whale the bejesus out of the bad guys. Michael has been caught up in a scheme to build bombs of a curious nature. Maybe they’re harmless devices designed to release red, white, and blue smoke in a “swirling patriotic cloud” in homage to Old Glory. Or perhaps the agenda is to wreak havoc on Veterans Day, because said smoke could be laced with the deadly VX nerve gas. So the plot’s a bit wacky, but at least it’s not trite. Reacher dispenses plenty of knuckle justice and cranium cracking, and wounded vet Michaela gets in some well-placed kicks. The writing is unmemorable, with loads of short, declarative sentences. Incomplete ones, too. No reader is going to say omigod, I wish I could write a sentence like that. Maybe Reacher should repeat high school English to remember that it’s OK for tough guys to express complex thoughts now and then. He could use a love life, too. You’d think Michaela’s titanium boot would be a turn-on for him, but no. Yet all of this—plausible plot or not, Pulitzer-level prose or not—won't mean much to readers just looking for an exciting escape. A fun read for the right niche of thriller readers. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.