Book Review: One Shot by Lee Child

March 1, 2013
By


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In a building in  an Indiana city, a sniper meticulously prepares himself. And guns down five people in the street, missing just one shot. The police investigate and track down a person towards whom the evidence points. It is an open and shut case, so strong is the evidence against the man. He, however, insists that they have got the wrong guy. And makes one request:

“Get Jack Reacher for me”

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And that really is the story of One Shot, the Lee Child book that has been made into the film Jack Reacher. The book has even been relaunched as Jack Reacher One Shot. We have not seen the film yet, but if it has adhered to the plot of this book, it would be a corker. A man who seems guilty as hell of a heinous crime asks for Jack Reacher, Lee Child’s Holmes-meets-Rambo hero (he is incredibly strong and brainy). A very puzzled Reacher arrives on the scene. Puzzled because, he is actually the last person the man should be asking for. And of course, when Reacher is puzzled, he does not sit around wondering but sets around finding a solution, generally with some broken bones thrown into the mix.

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The book has all the standard Jack Reacher ingredients–the lone hero who is difficult to find (he wanders from place to place, does not carry a bag), the people he tries to assist, the people who get in his way, and a whole lot of conspiracy elements. Child has thrown in a few legal twists into the book as well for good measure, and it does enough to keep you riveted. Some of it – the newbie lawyer daughter taking on her legal eagle dad in court, for instance – is right out of Bollywood, but for the most part, you cannot help but be thrilled by the sheer stature of Reacher. The man takes on unbeatable odds. Spots things others miss. And spits defiance at every turn when the system tries to set him right. Before you know it, the watertight case against the accused starts showing shades of humidity, and the twists and turns start.

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We don’t know quite how well it has been rendered in the film, but we must confess that this is not the best book for newcomers to the Reacher saga. It is actually the ninth in the series, and does not have the crisp feel that some other Reacher books – those who love Reacher’s staccato and shocking repartees will feel a bit disappointed, as will those who love the conversation-soaked narrative that has marked some of the best Reacher titles. However, there are thrills aplenty nevertheless.

Try it if you are interested in the film. If you are interested in Jack Reacher the character, start at the beginning – with Killing Floor. Where he tells the tale himself.

One Shot
Lee Child
Bantam
498 pages
Rs. 350

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