Child’s ‘Worth Dying For’ well worth reading

Yeah, there’s no doubt about it; “Worth Dying For” reads like a future action movie.

Not that that’s a bad thing. This was my first experience with Lee Child and his Jack Reacher character, and Child and Reacher both have found a fan.

The action in “Worth Dying For” starts on the very first page, with the setup for an ambush. Both the target of the ambush and the reason for it remain a mystery until very close to the end of the book, when the reader has all but forgotten about it and it serves as a suspenseful blast from the past — maybe literally.

As for Reacher, he sure has a talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, at least as far as his personal health and safety are concerned. The people Reacher stumbles upon in the remote Nebraska town in “Worth Dying For” have been victimized for so long that they have no hope for salvation. Reacher, like any good action hero, persuades them to let him help change their lot and then methodically goes about attempting just that.

He comes to this story with a mysterious, serious injury, which is never fully explained and only adds to Reacher’s mystique. But the pain and related physical limitations force the already underequipped (at least as far as hardware is concerned) Reacher to come up with some pretty creative ways of doing battle with the town bullies. And what’s refreshing about his McGyveresque methods is that they’re totally believable. The reader is told that Reacher has some sort of shadowy and intensive, probably military training, and he uses this training and his own ingenuity to concoct some pretty effective weapons.

Through it all, Child does a stupendous job of setting a scene of frozen, remote rural Nebraska. The desolation of the vast expanses, and the way they increase Reacher’s challenges, adds even more chills to a truly gripping thriller.

Oh, and the reason the townspeople have been victimized for so long? That remains a mystery until the very end, when it’s clear that the cause is, indeed, worth dying for.

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