Really enjoy the tough guy lone wolf who stumbles into random adventures. Unusual to find a non gimmick adventure/mystery series not based on a PI or current cop. Even Travis McGee, the only one which comes to mind, was an unofficial PI, and I read those all 20 years ago.
Anyone know of anything similar for me to check out??
Out of curiosity, does the Reacher series keep getting better?* I’ve read both Echo Burning and Bad Luck and Trouble, and I can’t seem to empathize with Reacher at all–I find myself rooting for the bad guys to take him out. Checking out Child’s website, the last few synopses sound really interesting. I’m assuming Gone Tomorrow isn’t just a revenge fantasy, but has a cool twist.
I just thought of another one–Barry Eisler’s John Rain series. John Rain’s another one who I actively dislike as a main character, but he’s definitely in the Jack Reacher mold.
*Arguably Stephen Hunter’s work gets worse. I think he’s just running out of locales, but even his Nascar-themed second to last book is entertaining; yes, I said Nascar-themed. Don’t let that stop you from checking out Hot Springs, though.
Needless to say I’m a GARGANTUAN Stephen Hunter fan, but he’s really been slipping lately. The samurai book was just . . . awful. It could have worked if he would have just not put Bob Lee Swagger in it and instead made it a one-off, but shoehorning him in made it the dumbest plot I’ve come across in a long time. Likewise the NASCAR book, just leave Bob Lee alone until you have a really good idea. He needs to spin up another character (perhaps a competition shooter from Kentucky?) for his new ideas.
That said, Dirty White Boys is one of my all-time favorite books. Reading it was like watching Pulp Fiction for the first time, you didn’t know awesome came in that flavor.
The Reacher series has stayed strong against all odds. Even though it’s getting ridiculously unlikely that a man would randomly fall into a murderous shootout roughly every five months for the last ten years, somehow by not being too self-referential it works.
You should try the Doc Ford series by Randy Wayne White. He’s another unlikely hero, although the books aren’t as noir-ish as the Reacher books.
Warning - if you’re reading the Atticus Kodiak novels, STOP before you get to Patriot Acts. That’s the point where the entire series just goes completely to shit and trashes everything that was remotely good about it. Just accept that Critical Space is the last novel and that everything wraps up there and it’s a good stopping point.
I like Greg Rucka. He’s a generally good guy. But Patriot Acts was the first book I’ve literally flung across the room with disdain.
You know, I actually quite liked The 47th Samurai. Old Bob the Nailer didn’t go around shooting things, but there were some memorable scenes, and Stephen Hunter’s background as a film critic came into play (as his love of samurai movies and Japanese porn were both mentioned in the afterword). I’d go so far as to say it’s my second favorite Bob Lee book after Point of Impact. They’re not as good as the Earl Swagger trilogy, but oh well.
Mightynute – Walking Dead is a much better book than Patriot Acts, so don’t give up on the series just yet.
Atticus Kodiak is indeed a terrible name, but I don’t think he’s as much of a Mary Sue as Jack Reacher (but again I’ve only read two of the Reacher novels). I’m going to try to find a copy of Gone Tomorrow, unless I’m told it’s terrible. It’s in first-person, so maybe it’ll be easier for me to sympathize with the character.
Holy crap, he’s giving those away!!? Charlie Huston is my absolute favorite “unknown” author out there, and the trilogy is fantastic. As are his vampire books. And anything else he writes, like The Shotgun Rule. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Re: 47th Samurai, my main problem is that I just couldn’t sustain my disbelief of it happening to Swagger. Sure, his military past keeps circling back around to mess with him, I can buy that, but then you have the best (or second, or third depending on where you are in the books) sniper from Vietnam constantly wandering into unrelated deadly situations? It just pushes it too far for me. At least Reacher is constantly traveling and not minding his own business, so I can forgive him always running into trouble.
Another vote for the John Rain books – Rain isn’t a likeable character, and that’s what I like about him.
To take the other side of the coin, I would also definitely read Donald Westlake’s Parker novels (penned under the name Richard Stark). They’re sort of the reverse of Reacher, who wanders around finding trouble. Parker wanders around stealing stuff and making trouble. The Parker novels are also great examples of good, readable, non-pretentious prose, which is another thing I like about them.
They are all enjoyable but uneven.The first one is a nice intro to the character but marred by the worst coincidence in the history of fiction.The next 5 or so are strong, then a few weak ones, but the last one and the current(61 Hours) are very good.
Thanks to all, I think I will pick up the first Hunter one for my next mystery/adventure. I usually alternate mystery/adventure with SF/fantasy in my TBR pile…
I recently read One Shot, which is listed as #9 in the series (I didn’t know I was starting so far into the series when I picked it up), and I liked it a lot. I had no trouble rooting for Reacher in that one.
In the last Reacher book I read, Nothing To Lose, Reacher has already turned completely into Quai Chang Caine only with a much larger affinity for violence. Child has stopped any efforts to create a reason why Reacher would get involved with the usual stuff. He just walks from one part of the US to another, getting into trouble. I like that.
I started Gone Tomorrow. So far I quite like it. I went back and read a bit of Echo Burning, which at the time I remember disliking–still don’t like it very much.
I think one of the big differences for me is the shift to first-person in Gone Tomorrow.
Also, Aleck mentioned Richard Stark’s (a.k.a. Donald Westlake) Parker series. Parker is a lot like Reacher, physically big, great instincts, quick to kill. But you don’t get the feeling Westlake wants to be Parker; he never writes like this (from Echo Burning):
Reacher turned his head and looked at him. Not really to antagonize the guy. Just to size him up. Life is endlessly capable of surprises, so he knew one day he would come face to face with his physical equal. With somebody who might worry him. But he looked and he saw this wasn’t the day. So he just smiled and looked away again.