“No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories”
by Lee Child
418 pages, $27
Nobody can quite get things wrong the way Hollywood can. For every Sean Connery who was inspired bringing James Bond out of books and into the movies, there is a squadron of Paul Newmans, whose way of adapting Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer novels was renaming the detective "Harper" and giving him all the charisma and star quality of Newman. Never mind that, as conceived by Macdonald, Archer was virtually faceless – just a functioning cipher to home in on, who figured everything out, reported what he saw and did and to moved onto better things, or at least different ones.
No book series in the last 10 years has been cinematically violated with quite the unconcern of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. On the official website of Child and Reacher, Child’s dangerous ex-military itinerant is described as being six feet five inches tall, somewhere between 220 and 250 pounds and with a 50-inch chest.
He wears a coat sized 3XLT and pants with a 95 cm. inseam. (That’s 37 inches.)
He is, wrote Child, “built like the side of a house” with hands that were “giant battered mitts that were bunched into the size of footballs.”
In his one major movie thus far, Reacher was played by Tom Cruise, who is, by general agreement, five feet seven inches tall and weighs 170 pounds – maybe 180 soaking wet after a turkey dinner and wearing heavy boots. Child, with the good cheer of a well-paid author, has observed that Reacher’s physical size is mostly there to indicate “unstoppable force.”
Not exactly typecasting, perhaps, but for those who need a perfect Jack Reacher for summertime re-acquaintance, this complete book of Reacher short stories will do the trick in spades. Eleven previously published stories are included going back to 2009, with the publication of a brand new 54-page novella called “Too Much Time” which begins with a purse-snatching in Maine and ends with Reacher’s demonstration of faith in the local constabulary before he moves on.
The book altogether gives you Reacher, the behemoth, in tasty and apt bite-sized pieces.