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The latest Jack Reacher book from Lee Child is a sequel to 61 Hours which was released earlier this year. After I read 61 Hours, I voiced my opinion that I didn't really know where the follow-up could go as the story in 61 Hours kind of, pretty much ended in that volume. Well, I was right, that story ended, and the only strands that connect that book to this one, Worth Dying For, is that Jack is suffering serious pain after hauling himself out the concrete, underground shelter on arm power alone, and that he is now en route to Virginia to meet up with Susan, the Fed he talked to on the phone during the violent events of 61 Hours.


During his journey, he ends up in a pastoral township in Nebraska. A township that is being wholesale bullied by a terrifying family, the Duncans. Old Man Duncan owned a huge farm tract and when he died, his sons Jacob, Jonas, and Jasper decided they didn't want to be farmers so they sold off parcels of land to the community. With one condition. That they only used the Duncan brothers haulage to ship out their harvest. When an 8 year old girl went missing, the eye fell on the already suspicious Duncan borthers. To punish the town for their thoughts, the brothers started to punish the community. Fast-forward 25 years, and Jack comes across a town that as given up and does everything the brothers tell them to.


Jack doesn't care. A whole town that can't stand up to 3 brothers and one son, Seth Duncan? They are just cowards - "it's not rocket science." But when Jack finds out that Eleanor Duncan, Seth's wife, is savagely beaten on a regular basis, and that the town still believes that the Duncan's had something to do with the disappearance of 8 year old Margaret Coe, he just has to get involved.


Unfortunately, things aren't quite as 'domestic' as Jack thinks. The Duncans aren't just hauling harvests and their most recent delivery is late making various partners very nervous. And they all, each, see a way to cut out the middleman thereby maximising their profits. So disparate groups of gangsters are sent to Nebraska to secure the delivery and wipe out the competition. The Duncans, feeling nervous, decide to lay the blame for the late delivery at the feet of the stranger that is causing them some grief - that way they get the gangsters off their backs and the stranger, in one swoop.


It's the classic no-win situation for Reacher, and one that we just love to read him fight his way out of.


Now, I am really hoping that Lee Child is not going the way of James Patterson, churning out books for the cash. Despite the genre, I have always believed that Child cares for his character and the quality of this action thriller series. The series has heart and balls, and manages to keep me hooked. It was a tenuous link to 61 Hours, one that I can overlook, because this book didn't disappoint. It's not a weak version of a Reacher book, it's a great story with an exciting unfolding of the plot.


But...and this is annoying as all hell, I noticed something in Child's writing that I either hadn't noticed before or it's an effect of lazy writing due to getting this book out sooner than the normal 18 month gap. Child has become over familiar with the conjunction 'and'. Now, stylistically, this can be used to emphasis a list of events, but used wrongly it's embarrassing.


This is a typical example from Worth Dying For:


Reacher kept pace and kept his finger where it was and the seat kept on moving, and the truck kept on accelerating, and Reacher started running alongside, and then the seat arrived at the limit of its travel and Reacher stepped away and let the truck go on without him.

And there's lots of sentences just like that. Even as I was reading, at I was gripped in the story, I could hear my inner voice going "and blah blah blah and...and...and..." Huffing and puffing on the 'and'. It's really quite poor.


But story is all for me with the Reacher books. Well, story and Reacher. And I enjoyed (nearly) every minute of this book.

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