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Book Review: Personal by Lee Child

Number 19 iPersonal (Jack Reacher, #19)n the Jack Reacher canon, Personal opens with our vertically blessed loner, the ex military policeman, responding to an ad left in an army newspaper and which only he knows is a call for help from his former boss. Tasked with hunting down a sniper who authorities believe is going to attempt to assassinate world leaders at forthcoming summit, Reacher is back on the job. Having already tried to eliminate the French President, there are only a handful of assassins around the world gifted enough to have tried and failed – and one of them is an ex US soldier Reacher once arrested and who has a serious beef with the former army cop, hence making this mission very personal.

The clock is ticking…

With an attractive female side-kick thrust upon him (this is a Reacher novel after all), Reacher is sent to Paris then London to try and track down and put a stop to the assassin and what could be a world-changing, catastrophic event (killing a series of leaders). With limited information and aid from sources whose motives are often uncertain, Reacher finds himself embroiled in a turf war with some seriously tough and ruthless guys – one of whom is so big, he’s able to kick sand in Reacher’s face if he so chooses.

Yet, the closer Reacher gets to discovering the sniper’s whereabouts, the more danger in which he places himself and his young assistant. In typical fashion, those who employed him in the first place want solutions, not problems, so our protagonist is on his own.

There’s no doubt that Child writes a page-turner but, if you are a regular fan of the series, then there is a great deal of repetition to wade through. But it’s not only in matters concerning Reacher and which make him tougher than and different from your average Joe – the fact the only baggage he carries is a toothbrush and his eschewing of a diverse wardrobe. In this novel, some of the dialogue is repeated, to the point, it felt like the book needed another quick edit. Also, some of the plot points jarred a little. Having said that, when the tension starts to build and the “bad guys” emerge from the shadows to converge on their target, it’s hard to put the book down.

So, while this is not Lee at his best, it’s far from his worst and the end, though you might see it coming, is still gratifying. A great holiday or aeroplane read and you cannot ask for much more than that.

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