Review: Better Off Dead by Lee Child & Andrew Child

“Better Off Dead” is Andrew Child’s second time behind the wheel of his brother Lee’s Jack Reacher franchise, and it’s another perfectly formed action thriller that sees the former military policeman turned nomadic dispenser of extrajudicial justice face up against criminal mastermind Waad Dendoncker in a remote town on the US-Mexico border. 

Its opening reminded me of the seventh Reacher novel, “Persuader,” which also began in medias res: there, Reacher shot a cop while attempting to foil a kidnapping; here, we’re introduced to Dendoncker at the morgue as he identifies the body of a man, confirmed dead by the coroner: it’s — no, it can’t be! — Jack Reacher.

The narrative quickly flicks back in time to explain how Reacher ended up on the slab, and what happens from there. The plot is full of bombs and bombshells as the stakes continue to rise, and the whole thing is pockmarked with scenes of meticulously choreographed action.

“Better Off Dead” is an emblematic Reacher novel, and that’s a good thing, mostly. Towards the end of Lee’s reign, Reacher began to ruminate on his lifestyle and mortality; he was evolving, glacially. Andrew has taken Reacher back to his roots; he’s a hard-hitting man of action, with a propensity for stumbling into trouble, or having trouble find him. In Andrew Child’s hands, 24 years since his debut in “Killing Floor,” Jack Reacher remains one of today’s more exciting action heroes.

9 thoughts on “Review: Better Off Dead by Lee Child & Andrew Child

      1. Thanks for the reply.

        What I should have asked is “Does that mean there will be no more Jack Reacher books by Lee Child? Is Better Off Dead the last Reacher, whether co-authored or written by Lee himself?”

    1. What do you mean? Have you finished the book? The opening scene is a flash forward to events that occur later in the book. So we get a little tease of what’s to come, then snap back to find out how we got there.

  1. It is a very tedious and grueling book to finish. It’s the worst book I’ve read in many years. It was confusing and drawn out with many unnecessary long, boring, poorly written impertinent physical geographic descriptions which mattered little or not at all. I’ve loved all the other Reacher books but this was a total dud. I say this with no pleasure at all: The book is difficult to even finish. I’ve read many, many fiction books in my 69 years of life and this book is well-below average quality. It saddens me to state this.

  2. I totally agree! Normally finish a Reacher book in 2-3 days….this took 2 mo! Normally pass them on to friends….trash bin for this one!

  3. Been a Lee child books reader for years , probably the worst one yet l just a money spinner , will be dumping it in the trash , it’s all it deserves

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