Tripwire by Lee Child [Book Review]

Tripwire Jack Reacher

Tripwire by Lee Child is the second book in the Reacher series that I recommend you read because of the depth of the characters.  Reacher is more emotional and mistake prone, which makes him more human and relatable.  The climatic final fight between Reacher and villain “Hook” Hobie is unforgettable.

The Good

The Characters:  This is one of the few novels in the series where Reacher is more emotional and prone to mistakes.  The only other book (that I’ve read so far) where he’s like that is Die Trying.  Here the depth of his character is on display — not only is Reacher dealing with someone trying to kill his former boss’ daughter (Jodie Garber), he has to deal with issues of settling down, holding down property and loving someone he formerly saw as a niece.  

The dilemmas that Reacher grapples with make for an interesting read.  You know he’ll have to deal with these issues at some point.  You just don’t know how or when.

The minor characters of Chester and Marilyn Stone show a couple that ran out of luck and got into a bad situation.  It was a reminder that even the best of people can get in over their head when they least expect it.  I like how their story finally collides with Reacher’s by the end game.  

Victor Truman “Hook” Hobie, the villain of the story is also complex — he isn’t just some scumbag loan shark.  No, he’s a former Vietnam veteran who was severely scarred by a helicopter crash and lost part of his arm.  He’s amoral, intelligent and a survivor.  

Don’t get me wrong — he’s an absolutely bad guy.  Lee however makes him more than your usual one dimensional crime boss.  

The Plot:  Like many of Lee’s books, the story appears straightforward at first but I thought the twist near the end was the best of all:  it caught me partly off guard.  I had an inkling that something might happen but apparently I missed an earlier clue.  

I think you might run into the same thing.  This is one of the big points for this book.

The Climax:  When Reacher finally confronts Victor it ends up being quite a violent finale.  I liked the fact that Reacher didn’t get out of it unscathed.  In these scenes he showed just how tough he really was.  

In later novels (so far as I’ve read), Reacher is never as messed up by the end as he was at the end of this book.

The Bad

The “Action” Pacing:  The book was entertaining though if there was one thing that might have slightly irked me it was the pacing.  There was very little “action” through most of the story.  Everything came rushing at you at the very end.  

It was all investigation into Victor’s past and the build up towards the violent and painful fight in the climax.  

There were no hills or valleys.  Just one massive climb…

There was violence and scuffles but nothing extremely heart pumping until the end.  You are left dealing with the suspense of whether Reacher figures out Hobie’s game before time runs out for Marilyn, Chester and… Jodie.  

The Verdict

Tripwire was definitely one of my favourite books in the Jack Reacher series.  It was almost on par with Lee’s first book “Killing Floor”.  The detail of Reacher’s relationships, the background on Victor and Chester as well as the climatic final battle were all memorable.  If there’s a second book in the series you should definitely read, Tripwire is that book.  

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