Sunday, May 23, 2010

61 Hours and the Breach

5/16/10 If you're looking for fast-paced action and adventure, two new releases are likely to be ultimately satisfying. Each book showcases a tough hero battling against incredible odds - but neither is completely plausible.

61 Hours by Lee Child (Delacorte, $28) is scheduled for release on Tuesday. It's another tense thriller featuring Jack Reacher, the ex-military star of 14 earlier novels, who gets into a lot of trouble and doesn't stay in one place very long.

This time, he's travelling on a bus in South Dakota that goes out of control during a major snowstorm.

He helps injured older passengers, but soon finds himself in the middle of a highly unusual situation involving a nearby prison and a drug-dealing biker gang.

When you toss in an elderly, feisty witness, a Mexican druglord, a deadly assassin and a mysterious group of buildings, there's great potential for an exciting thriller.

Unfortunately, Child falters, offering a plot that seems relatively ludicrous and a killer who most experienced mystery fans will be able to spot with little difficulty.

There are many expected double-crosses and plot twists as well as a touch of romance. The ticking clock gimmick is annoying but effective, speeding the pace.

The conclusion will force the dedicated Child fan to wait until fall, when the next Reacher hardback will be available.

The Breach, a debut paperback novel by Patrick Lee (Harper, $7.99) follows a similar format, with many violent action scenes and an oddball premise.

It introduces Travis Chase, an ex-cop/ex-con who's escaping reality by hiking through the wilderness in Alaska. He stumbles across a horrific scene, a downed 747 airliner, discovering many dead bodies, including the wife of the president of the United States.

It gets stranger from there, as the anti-hero rescues pretty Paige Campbell, although he can't save her dying father, a scientist. Innovative bad guys surface; the pair head for a mysterious Wyoming facility that may hold many answers.

Chase and Campbell get involved in more deadly confrontations as they try to save mankind. It turns into a dark tale straight out of The X-Files, complete with science fiction overtones.

Lee's entertaining effort is offbeat and not completely believable, but shows great potential. A sequel is due out in the fall.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on May 16, 2010

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