With Child: Lee Child and the Readers of Jack Reacher

Polity. Oct. 2019. 290p. ISBN 9781509538218. $69.95; pap. ISBN 9781509538225. $16.95. LIT
Lee Child, hugely successful author of two dozen “Jack Reacher” thrillers, is lionized, analyzed, and slightly mocked in this breezy recounting of a year “with Child” by academic (French, Cambridge Univ.) and author (Walking on Water) Martin. As he did in Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me, Martin peers over Child’s shoulder as he starts Night School and accompanies him as he tours the world promoting Make Me. They discuss everything: philosophy; fans; marketing strategies; the “competition,” including Jonathan Franzen and Steig Larsson’s appointed successor, David Lagercrantz; Reacher’s sex life; English football. Martin also interviews Child’s (and Reacher’s) fans and fiends: a woman who won an auction to have her name in a Reacher book, an off-the-wall Scandinavian author, and a mountain man who considers Reacher too soft. Martin spills ink comparing his economy accommodations with that of the Rolls Royce– and private jet–traveling Child. The patter between the two Brits, author and semistalker, is often clever, even edifying, but some of the mythologizing wears thin.
VERDICT A good stopgap read for fans who anxiously await the next Reacher feature, and an amusing look behind the scenes at an author’s creative process.

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