Feb 14, 2007

Like Jack Bauer but without the manpurse

In fact, the only equipment Jack Reacher carries is a fold-up toothbrush.

Reacher, the hero of 10 and counting novels by Lee Child, is a former Army MP who left the military around the time folks were talking about the peace dividend. Now, he's a drifter who generally only stays in one place for a week before hopping a bus to wherever it takes him. A military brat who never set foot in the US until he was 9, Reacher's exploring the country for the first time.

He buys a new set of clothes every few days rather than do laundry and owns nothing but the aforementioned toothbrush. (I don't think Reacher needs to floss: Gingivitis wouldn't dream of attacking Reacher's gums.) I believe he washes out his unmentionables on occasion, but sometimes he'll just shower with his clothes on, like he did in the last novel I read to counter the relentless 100-degree heat.

He reminds me of Jack Bauer because he's an implacable foe, who will kill whoever needs to be killed without a trace of remorse. And, of course, he's always on the side of the angels so the people Reacher kills need killing. He's also got superhuman abilities like Bauer. For instance, Reacher doesn't own a watch, but he always knows exactly what time it is, thanks to an uncanny internal clock. But whereas Jack Bauer goes 24 hours without eating, sleeping or going to the bathroom, Jack Reacher can sleep at will. I don't recall him ever sleeping standing up, but he can and will lie down and get some shuteye if he's got 15 minutes to kill before taking out a den of bad guys. And the internal clock saves him from being late to the party.

Unlike Jack Bauer, Reacher doesn't torture people--but then he's not responsible for making America safe for democracy. Instead, he's busy saving damsels in distress, or getting arrested for a murder he didn't commit.

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