Archive for February 5th, 2013

Über-detective unravels a Texas family’s tangled legacy in ‘Echo Burning’

February 5, 2013

You can’t beat Jack Reacher one on one. You can only hope to outmaneuver him.

That, in a nutshell, is the essence of Jack Reacher, the super-competent über-detective who is the star of Lee Child’s series of thriller novels. Reacher is a retired Army MP, or military policeman, an efficient killer with a razor-sharp intellect and in-depth experience with forensics and human psychology. If he had to engage Superman or Batman in man-to-man combat, Reacher could win — given enough time, information and resources to prepare effectively.

Before this week, I was familiar with Child’s work only through the recent movie Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise. On a relative’s recommendation, I dove into Reacher’s 2001 novel, Echo Burning, in which the almost oppressively effective hero finds himself plunged into a messy situation in the hot, sparsely populated Echo County in rural Texas.

The book pits Reacher against at least two sets of antagonists. One is the Greer clan, a tight-knit family with extensive roots in Echo that doesn’t cotton to outsiders.

Unfortunately for them, while hitchhiking in Texas, Reacher is picked up by Carmen Greer. A Latina out of California who has married into the family, Carmen is still considered an outsider, despite having borne her husband a lovely daughter. Worse yet, her husband beats her savagely. Even worse he’s about to get out of prison. Worst of all, the improbably named Sloop Greer blames Carmen — correctly so! — for his having been sent to prison on tax evasion charges.  Read the rest of this entry »

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