Jeff Smith 9:54 a.m., May 22
He arrived last Tuesday, when Lee Child's (pictured) The Affair came to San Diego's few remaining bookstores. Reacher's the star of something like 16 mystery novels. But the number isn't the point, nor are the titles, which blur after a while. It's the locations that are memorable, and what Reacher does to seemingly insurmountable barriers. Each book's like entering a maze, where evil festers at the center.
Reacher solves problems, BIG ones, usually with a geographical twist. In one book - can't recall the title - real bad dudes have a ranch in Texas 50, or 100, miles from anyone on either side. Problem is, well one of them, Reacher doesn't drive a car.
Or own a wardrobe. He's six-five, weighs 250, and keeps only one set of clothes at a time. When it's done, usually at book's end, he scraps it and one-stop shops for another.
He was a major in the Military Police. He knows every form of one-on-one combat and has no fear of facing six thugs at a time (asked if he ever played football, Reacher said he did, but they kicked him off the team for being too violent).
He's a brute. But here's the kicker: he's also got near-MacGyver smarts. Which excludes Steven Segal from movie versions. All 16 books have been optioned, but a nagging question remains: who could play this guy?
Lee Child's narratives move with Formula One fluidity. While today's best-selling mystery writers attempt the occasional nuance or literary flourish (Michael Connelly's dialogue has subtexts, for example), Child is all storyline. He knows why we're here. Information demands more information. You start reading and, next thing you know, your left hand's filling up with pages and your right's getting carpel tunnel from turning them.
The Affair goes back to the beginning - to the time when Reacher decided to leave the military, don mufti, and tour America righting wrongs, often with extreme prejudice.