While Killing Floor was an insular, lightly introspective thriller – narrated in the first person, its plot closely tied to Reacher’s past – the second Jack Reacher novel ups the stakes, and is a broader, more convoluted page-turner; told in third-person, packed with a ton of characters and various narrative threads, all of which tie together in a satisfying climax. Die Trying is the perfect second novel in a series, taking what hooked readers in the first place and magnifying those elements.
It starts in typical fashion: Jack Reacher, in the wrong place at the wrong time, on this occasion alongside a beautiful FBI agent named Holly Johnson, who is the target of a kidnapping in broad daylight on a Chicago street. The question is, why? As far as Feds go, she’s low-level; new to the bureau, with seemingly little value as a hostage. But that’s a question for later; initially, for Reacher, it’s about survival: both his and hers. Then, when the kidnappers’ intentions become clear, it’s about vengeance.
Much like in Killing Floor, the Reacher presented here is significantly more vulnerable and emotional than what readers have grown accustomed to. There are moments in Die Trying when Reacher feels genuine fear; he doubts himself and his abilities on more than one occasion, but these humanising moments work wonders for later on in the novel, when he starts dishing out his special brand of justice. Without them, Reacher would be little more than a caricature of an 80’s movie action hero; soulless and cruel. Child plays his cards right, developing his protagonist with aplomb.
With a strong female lead – Holly’s one of the most kick-arse heroines Child’s ever created – and its unrelenting pace, Die Trying is a top-tier thriller, just as good as Killing Floor, and still one of Child’s finest.
Format: Paperback (198mm x 127mm x 35mm)
Imprint: Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 9-Dec-2010
Country of Publication: United Kingdom