Review of “Personal” by Lee Child

Note: This review is by my husband Jim.

Personal is Lee Child’s 19th Jack Reacher novel. I have read 8 or 9 of them, and, like the others, this one is a bit formulaic. However, I must say that Child is pretty darn good at his craft.

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Jack Reacher is a former military cop, and now a pro re nata vigilante. (Pro re nata is a Latin phrase meaning in the circumstances or as the circumstance arises.) He roams the United States doing dangerous contract work or just investigating suspicious situations on his own.

In this story, someone has tried to kill the French president, and the assassin is believed to be a man Reacher put in jail before. Reacher is asked by the State Department and the CIA to track him down again, and of course, Reacher agrees. 



As usual, the bad guys are really bad, and, as usual, they all get their condign comeuppance. But there is plenty of action, vividly described. And the plot is sufficiently plausible that the book does not seem like pure fantasy.

One of Child’s signature quirks is that he likes to edify the reader with the physics and biomechanics of how Jack Reacher is able to wreak physical havoc on his enemies during his frequent hand to hand combat scenes. I think his biomechanics are pretty good, but he sometimes mixes up his physics nomenclature. For example, he wants to explain why speed is more important than mass in causing damage to a body with a punch. Child says force is proportional to mass times velocity squared. Nope, that’s not force, that’s kinetic energy. The principle is right but the terminology is inaccurate. And for some effects we may be more interested in the impulse of the punch, which would be equal to its momentum, which is proportional to the velocity, not the velocity squared.

Quibbles aside, this is one of Child’s best, and that is quite good.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Random House Publishing Group, 2014

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7 Responses to Review of “Personal” by Lee Child

  1. sandynawrot says:

    I’ll definitely be listening to this one! I don’t miss a single one of them.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    I’ve only read one – the one with the awkward sex scenes – and I just thought it was okay so I haven’t looked for anymore of them. I think I might need to start at the beginning to become invested in Jack.

  3. I just did a review of Daniel Silva’s 14th Gabriel Allon book, The Heist. They’re easy to do because every one is good, and you only have to decide if it’s a little better or little worse than the previous one. I read 3 or 4 Reachers and then stopped, but don’t know why. I liked them.

  4. Beth F says:

    Can you believe that I’ve never read one of these?

  5. stacybuckeye says:

    Love this series! I think I’m ready for #10.

  6. will says:

    Just got to that page and pleased to see others spotted the force Vs momentum Vs en energy error. Otherwise good so far.

  7. I like his books but stopped after 3 or 4 – for no good reason. Might pick one up again down the road – but doubt it.

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