“Men want to be him, women want to be with him…”
Like everyone, I have a secret vice or two. One of these is a penchant for airport thrillers, the sort of unputdownable page-turner that lets you be the bone-crunching, Glock-packing loner-hero you always intended to be before discovering computer games, cheese sandwiches and DVD box-sets.
The apotheosis of this page-projected fantasy-self has to be Jack Reacher.
There are moments on late night vomit-comets out of Fenchurch Street when I consider swinging into action, despatching anti-social hoods left, right and centre. Then I remember I’ve only got a handful of shirts and that, combined with a pathological fear of getting my nose broken, lead me usually to consider waiting until I am more suitably attired.
Andy Martin, writing in the Independent, sums up Reacher brilliantly: “Reacher is a moody, modern outsider figure, one of the great anti-heroes. He is anti-capitalism, anti-materialism, anti-religion, with a fondness for anarchy and revolution: a liberal intellectual with machismo, and arms the size of Popeye’s.”
I am sure those who know me can spot the similarity.
It is more than a little ironic that Jack Reacher, the all-American action hero, romantic loner and chivalrous sharpshooter, is actually the creation of a Brit, Lee Child, who turned to writing at forty after losing his job with Granada TV. David Smith’s 2008 profile piece in the Guardian gives hope to all of us who are still nurturing hopes of becoming international best-selling authors.
So why my puppyish over-excitement?
Last weekend I happened to pass by Waterstone’s and discovered that Lee Child’s latest Reacher book was out: 61 Hours. And it’s brilliant. As friends and family can testify, the Smallest Room in the House doubles as the Lesser Library – and I am locking myself away in there with Jack Reacher on a regular basis.
There are rumours, too, of a Jack Reacher film, though nothing more recent than 2008 (on a cursory trawl). And whilst not strictly in keeping with Child’s description of Reacher, I can’t get away from the idea of him being played by the brilliant and chiselled Christopher Melloni, better known to many as Elliot Stabler in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
So if you’ve not done so already, and enjoy a pulp read with plenty of action and fast-plotted twists, introduce yourself to Jack Reacher and check out The Killing Floor. And if you are a UK inquisitive, you might want to check out Jack Reacher’s official UK fan site, too.
And one final warning.
If you are a lager lout on a late night last train out of London and you see me wearing jeans… Watch out.