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Meat and Potatoes
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Novels; Books-titles -- Persuader
Author: Anderson, Patrick
Date: May 5, 2003
Start Page: C.04
Section: STYLE

Which brings me to [Lee Child], an Englishman who moved to this country a few years back and writes an old-fashioned, hard-boiled series about a dangerous character called Jack Reacher. This Reacher is something of an enigma. He served a dozen years as an officer in the military police, and he is adept both with his fists and with sophisticated weaponry. He has no fixed address, but drifts about the country until trouble finds him, which it unerringly does. In "Persuader," he is walking down the street in Boston when he glimpses a man named Quinn he thought he'd killed 10 years earlier. Quinn eludes him, whereupon Reacher sets out to find and destroy him, for having butchered a woman Reacher cared for.

What follows is a skillful blend of sex, violence, sadism, weaponry, spies, smuggling, revenge, deception, suspense and nonstop action. To find Quinn, Reacher stages an elaborate ruse that gets him hired as a bodyguard by another criminal who can lead him to his enemy. My only complaint about "Persuader" is that it is based on several premises that are hard to swallow -- that Quinn would have survived the three bullets Reacher previously put in him, that the criminals would buy the ruse that gets Reacher inside their camp, and so on. But most thrillers demand that we suspend disbelief -- it's a question of degree -- and Child's story is sufficiently gripping that it's easy to go with the flow. Do so, and you'll be treated to such highlights as an epic fistfight between Reacher, who's 6-5 and 250 pounds, and a monster who's 7 feet tall and 400 pounds.

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