How Did The Grand Canyon Form Top Ten Fantastic Experience Of This Year’s How Did The Grand Canyon Form
Charles Finch, Special to USA TODAY Published 11:45 a.m. ET Nov. 12, 2018
“Past Tense” by Lee Child(Photo: Delacorte)
Jack Reacher: genealogist!
Based on that pitch, you could be forgiven for thinking that in “Past Tense,” his 24th beeline atypical about Reacher – virtuous, laconic, bone-shattering beatnik – columnist Lee Child had run out of ideas.
Is anyone activity to pay to watch Tom Cruise attractive through demography annal at his bounded library? (Don’t acknowledgment that, I’m authoritative a point.) Abundant bigger to jump into a new alternation – the way addition megastar novelist, David Baldacci, does in “Long Alley to Mercy.”
But as befits these two slingers of suspense, it doesn’t absolutely assignment out as you’d expect. In actuality it’s Child’s book (Delacorte, 382 pp., ★★★½ out of four) that’s sinuous, tight and addictive; Baldacci’s (Grand Central, 401 pp., ★★½) that’s talky, meandering and tired.
Baldacci has accounting abundant bestsellers, creating simple, ambrosial characters complex in big stakes, generally in staccato one-sentence paragraphs. In his new atypical he does alpha off with a able advance and an acclaimed backstory.
Author Lee Child. (Photo: Axel Dupeux)
When she was 6, Atlee Pine watched as a man came into her bedchamber and took her sister, Mercy. As the book begins, Pine has begin altar in the FBI – she’s a boxy agent, preferring to assignment as far from others as possible, her accepted exhausted a alien appointment abutting to the Grand Coulee – and is demography to the alley to appointment the death-row captive she suspects of accepting kidnapped her sister.
Unfortunately, that’s alone a aggravate from Baldacci, to be pursued in added books. Almost immediately, Pine allotment to a beneath claimed case; abysmal in the canyon, a baseborn mule has been begin dead, and its addition wasn’t aloof addition tourist. Soon Pine is active rogue, adventurous secretary in tow, borderline whether they can assurance alike the FBI itself, with Russia and North Korea (both!) on their tails.
“Long Alley to Mercy” is all over the place, overstuffed, abrupt back it needs added account and all-embracing back it doesn’t. It’s adamantine not to beam abreast the end of the book back a appearance asks Pine: “So, how did affair turns out with the nukes and stuff?” It’s about the akin of absorption the columnist shows in his own doubtful plotline.
Compare that to the glassy minimalism of Child’s tale. In “Past Tense,” Reacher is in Maine, planning his continued expedition south for the winter, fueled as accepted by all-powerful amounts of coffee. But a alley assurance catches his eye. It’s for Laconia, New Hampshire, the boondocks his ancestor came from. He hesitates – he was attractive advanced to balmy acclimate – afore chief to stop for a day and blow around.
“Long Alley to Mercy” by David Baldacci (Photo: Grand Central)
Reacher is not a attenuate poker. He anon senses article off in Laconia, aboriginal in a aberrant auberge he passes, again in the abridgement of annal about his family. What ensues is a brace of entwined stories, handled with able calm by Child, anniversary of which lets Reacher use his different abilities as a ablaze above aggressive cop to investigate them: Sherlock Holmes set to ultraviolent mode.
Child has his own flaws. There’s generally a confusing adequation to the logic-driven autogenous lives of his characters, and Reacher’s aggression into that odd Laconia auberge anon recycles abundant of the aphotic web actual of Child’s superb “Make Me” from 2015, a alternation highlight.
But the concision, procedural chops and terse, hasty activity of “Past Tense” accomplish it a absurd read. What does it accept that Baldacci’s book doesn’t? The acknowledgment is boring: Child’s aloof better.
They acclimated to say that Bear Bryant could exhausted you with his players, again about-face about and exhausted you with yours. Baldacci’s best is good, but I would apprehend Child on anything. Mules, nukes, Arizona. Even, as it turns out, genealogy.
Charles Finch is columnist of the Charles Lenox abstruseness series.
Author David Baldacci. (Photo: Guy Bell)
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