Good morning. Due to medical-type shenanigans that extended late into last night, I wasn’t able to prepare for today’s post. But I’m sitting here drinking coffee with Lee Child’s 2016 Jack Reacher novel next to my laptop, and it’s been on my mind to talk about it, so I thought, why not today!
(Side note: when I’m asked the classic question, “If you could have coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?” My answer is Lee Child. It would’ve been a tough call between Lee Child, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling if the latter two weren’t already demystified by countless interviews, public appearances of various sorts, and Twitter. Child remains somewhat of a mystery.)
So here’s my copy of Night School, exactly where it is at the moment:
Night School takes us back in time: Reacher is younger and still in the army. I knew this before picking up the book, so I was already intrigued when I started reading. Of Child’s 20-odd Reacher stories, Night School is the third (I believe) to take place during Reacher’s active-duty years.
Some things I learned, things that stood out, and thoughts I had as I read Night School:
1). It was fun going back in time again to read about Reacher operating within an organized military unit.
2). How does active-duty army Reacher differ from present-day Reacher? It turns out not at all. Veteran Reacher does the same thing that active-duty Reacher did. When Reacher ETS’d out (left the army), he continued doing the same work… as a freelancer.
3). “Freelancer” being a euphemism for “vigilante” in his line of work.
4). Reacher is a thug, but being one part math genius and somewhat progressive intellectual (who speaks French) and one part pure thug with superpower fighting capabilities, Reacher is a thinking person’s thug. This has been the case from the beginning of Reacher time. This may explain how Reacher always attracts the women he desires, even though he’s notably not good-looking. Apparently, a rough-around-the-edges contradictory enigma of a vigilante is difficult for these women to resist. (Almost all of Reacher’s women are intelligent, powerful, and in positions of authority; Reacher has great admiration and respect for them.)
5). Also from the beginning of Reacher time, Reacher has had his characteristic threshold beyond which he has to go rogue to some degree or another, striking out on his own. In the army, he had no qualms about disobeying orders to follow his instincts.
6). Reacher’s part in group dynamics: in Night School, we can observe lone-wolf Reacher and his behavior when working with the people brought together by the case at hand, and how Reacher balances working together and going rogue.
7). Reacher chooses Sergeant Frances Neagley (always his number-one pick of enlisted soldiers) to help him in Night School, so we can see that his respect for Neagley and her considerable sharp work and badassery goes way back. Of the three experts tasked to take on the case, Reacher is the only one to choose a woman.
8). We also understand more about Neagley and her quirks, now, and about Reacher’s friendship and liaison with her.
9). Jalalabad, Afghanistan is “a hot desert climate, like Arizona.” (Not news to me; I just enjoyed that simile.)
10). Lots of Muay Thai techniques feature in Night School’s fight scenes. Reacher throws elbow strikes as efficiently as a professional Muay Thai fighter (i.e. what goes up must come down… as in a downward elbow chop taking out one guy after his up elbow took out another guy. Two bad guys with the same elbow on its arc saves time). And side elbows. And Neagley’s use of knee strikes, among other techniques. This comes as a surprise to no one who knows Reacher and Neagley, but still fun to read.
As always, I started looking forward to the next Reacher novel the second I turned the last page!
That’s all I’ve got for today. Happy Tuesday!