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Phoenix (The Complete Action Series)
David Alexander
Progress: 60 %
Persuader  - Lee Child Gigantic hobo detective Jack Reacher once again wanders into more trouble than any happy-go-lucky wanderer would reasonably expect. This time, after encountering a ghost from his past, a man named Quinn who should be dead, Reacher gets involved in an undercover DEA operation to take the man and his smuggling operation down. Reacher poses as a gun-for-hire in order to infiltrate Quinn's operation. The DEA wants him to go in and recover an agent who went missing and is presumably held captive. Reacher is going in for personal reasons. Quinn was supposed to be dead and Reacher is going to make sure he stays that way. 

Child's Reacher series is fairly reliable. After reading a couple, you pretty much know what you're going to get, and you keep reading more because what you want is what Child delivers. That is, action, thrills, a little sex, despicable villains and a big-ass juggernaut of justice willing to crack skulls and shoot people until all the bad guys are dead. Persuader is no different, and that's a good thing. Replace any of the items above with Reacher learning to crochet or taking a yoga class and…no I would not want to read that. The Reacher novels are, as Zwolf says over in The Mighty Blow Hole, the literary equivalent of a BDAM, or "Big Dumb Action Movie. I have to agree (and, by the way, he also thinks that Dolph Lundgren would be an awesome film Reacher). Persuader is a BDAM, that's for BDAM sure, and it's a heck of a lot of fun. 

You do have to be able to overlook a certain amount of goofiness, however. This goofiness is stuff that's pretty consistent with Child's other Reacher books. For example, dialogues often have that rapid-fire back-and-forth Dragnet quality that is sometimes unintentionally hilarious. Child doesn't write convincingly about army life, cop life or guns. During his investigations, Reacher often seems to just stumble through it pulling some of the most far-fetched subterfuges, like flipping a car over to simulate a car wreck, which is not in itself far fetched, but he still had to keep the car looking somewhat okay, so he put coats on the pavement to keep the roof from scratching! And he almost couldn't get the car flipped back over… and his investigative methods often include such subtle "techniques" as breaking a guy's neck and shooting a guy in the head. I often wonder if Reacher really thinks thing through first.

So if you're looking for a clever, delicately nuanced thriller with a plot as tangled a spider's web, Persuader ain't it. Persuader is about as subtle as a six-feet-five, two-hundred-and-fifty pound ex-military policeman can be. It does, however, offer a good amount of effective suspense thrown in with the action, and Child is quite good at pacing his novels.

Ultimately, the most satisfying aspect of Persuader (and the Reacher novels overall) is the fact that Child has a talent for creating some of the most evil, repulsive, despicably vile bad guys, all who receive suitably brutal comeuppances courtesy of Jack Reacher. It may be a bit of wish-fulfillment on my part but I like seeing bullies put in their place, and so does Reacher:

I don't really care about the little guy. I just hate the big guy. I hate big smug people who think they can get away with things.

Persuader's an effective thriller and a long as you don't take the minor gaffes too seriously it's a lot of fun. 3.5 stars, rounded to 4.