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Jack Reacher 4: The Visitor by Lee Child

Updated: May 2, 2023

The fourth book in the ever (and continuing) line of Jack Reacher novels is perhaps Lee Child’s best (as of yet). The titular character himself is perhaps the key to solving the entire mystery, but first one has to exercise several degrees of patience when reading the first chapters. There’s arguing back and forth, tension between the main characters, a bit of exposition to bring audiences up to speed in a 100mph paced plot, and the clues to solving the mystery are expertly interwoven throughout the first few chapters; even if one is able to solve and understand the who, the why, the how, the when, and the what about the invisible and elusive murderer that has been baffling the academic snobbery which runs right into the core of the FBI; the rest of the book is still enjoyable till the nail-biting, jaw-dropping and rumpus riot finale.

Perhaps what’s most commendable about the writings of Lee Child is the disciplined structure and pacing; something many writers fail at mastering even after decades and dozens of books on their resumés. Throughout the 4th Reacher novel, innumerable endless discussions should stall the plot to a tricycle paced children’s picture book; but somehow Child keeps things going both pointedly and necessarily when characters need nothing more than a well deserved break from the bullet train hyperactive speed that dominates eighty percent of the novel’s pages. There’s never a dull moment when one is mesmerised within the fast-paced dangerous world of Jack Reacher, that stretches from one corner of the USA to another, and successfully cuts out any unnecessary filler that would have otherwise dragged out the novel to an overly long narrative which would have (jet)lagged in the middle.

Writing (much like any other visual art) is about surpassing expectations and The Visitor does just that, and more. Lee Child has the nack of mixing together overly illuminated political agenda(s) mumbo-jumbo, militaristic protocol doo-das, governmental loopholes and technicality get-out-of-jail-free programmes, and adding complex layers of seemingly disconnected clues, puzzles, and riddles, agonisingly pointless discussions about things with virtually insignificant relevance, and extraneous questions to create a fascinating mystery.

Much like many other Jack Reacher novels, The Visitor is written in a 3rd person point-of-view, allowing the events of the novels to be played from various perspectives. At their hearts, Jack Reacher novels are essentially all about Jack Reacher and the relationship(s) he’s had with associates, acquaintances, colleagues, friends, and everyone else he’s ever made contact with. This could be easy excuse for Lee Child to always write from Reacher’s point-of-view, but he doesn’t; he allows other characters to do some storytelling of their own accord, hindering any worldliness that would make a voyeuristic journey through Reacher’s mind all the more contrived.

Underneath The Visitor is a predictable b-plot that plagues not only the writing (albeit briefly) of Lee Child, but every other medium of creative arts. Whilst Child does keep the b-plot from interfering directly with the main storyline, the slow unravelling of inner feelings, and one’s true calling goes through countless emotions/motions that the final chapter come to no real surprise, and feels like one giant marathon that doesn’t satisfyingly cross the seemingly impossible and impenetrable crossing line. Despite the no-real-surprise ending Child’s language, word choice, and character progression gives the predictable ending some rewarding freshness, compared to other writers who continually relay on the unsavoury sought-after sexual-orientated relationships that always rely on pornographic imagery and childish gimmicks and taunts that only childish teenagers would chuckle at behind clasped mouths.

The Visitor is perhaps one of the strongest Jack Reacher novels (to date). If one can put aside the stereotypical depictions of New York, back alleyway crime organisations, and the unconventional depiction of certain stereotypical characters, then The Visitor should be a welcomed guest to any bookcase with vacancies or empty space big enough to accommodate something a little different, but yet in some ways, reassuringly familiar.

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