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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Make Me

Lee Child

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To purchase Make Me

Title: Make Me
Author: Lee Child
Genre: Novel
Written: 2015
Length: 494 pages
Availability: Make Me - US
Make Me - UK
Make Me - Canada
Bienvenue à Mother's Rest - France
Keine Kompromisse - Deutschland
Prova a fermarmi - Italia
  • The twentieth Jack Reacher novel

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Our Assessment:

B : the usual mix, offering the usual enjoyment

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Evening Standard . 3/9/2015 Mark Sanderson
London Rev. of Books . 4/2/2016 Christopher Tayler
The NY Times . 31/8/2015 Janet Maslin

  From the Reviews:
  • "(T)he chase is the thing and Child ensures, after the slow build-up, that it is both breathless and bloody (.....) You can't help lapping it up -- even if it does leave a bad taste in the mouth." - Mark Sanderson, Evening Standard

  • "Make Me, the latest Reacher novel, is a return to form after Personal" - Christopher Tayler, London Review of Books

  • "Make Me offers the faintest indications that something about him may change, because this book’s spectrum of good and evil is so wide, and its depths of horror so extreme, that it seems impossible for even Jack Reacher to come away from it unchanged. (...) (T)his is the book that takes Reacher from the kind of cracking wise his fans love and the violence that he understands (he actually hurts himself head-butting this time, another new angle for the series), into the eerie realities of 2015, not the ones Reacher learned in the last century as part of his military training." - Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Make Me takes Jack Reacher to Mother's Rest, a small town in the middle of the great American nowhere, deep in farm country. It's a local hub, with a fairly large motel and a railway station, but otherwise there's not much to it. Reacher is a man on the near-constant move, traveling without practically any (physical) baggage, with no ties and no obligations. He saw the name Mother's Rest on a map and that's what drew him to the place; he figured there was a story behind the name -- something local-historical, way back, that might have left a trace, commemorated with a plaque or a small statue -- and he was curious enough to take a look. There is something behind this -- as it turns out-- very creepy little backwater, but it's not (so much) the name and what it is takes him a while (and a lot of miles) to learn.
       There's a woman waiting at the station when he gets off the delayed train -- hoping to find a colleague who had asked for her assistance. Instead she just finds Reacher -- who, of course, is everything anyone in a dangerous situation would need. Not that either of them know in just how dangerous a situation they're finding their way in. Her name is Michelle Chang, and she used to be an FBI agent; now she works as a private investigator. Her colleague is named Keever, working out of Oklahoma City, and he asked her to come here to help him on a case -- but she couldn't find him when she got there, and she hasn't been able to get in touch with him. Readers know why: the very opening chapter of the novel had the locals disposing of Keever's body.
       Chang is hanging around town, hoping to hear from Keever. There are plausible reasons why he can't be found or reached -- he might be following a lead somewhere, for one -- but with each passing day, of course, the plausibility decreases. Reacher scopes out the town, looking for a trace of the town's name's origins -- behavior that of course strikes the watchful locals as suspicious, as they figure he's nosing around about them. A day's worth of experiences has Reacher curious enough to team up with Chang to sniff around some more -- which, of course, the locals like even less.
       Soon all pretense that the locals are hiding something is gone, and their behavior becomes more antagonistic. Which only makes Reacher more curious and eager to get to the bottom of things.
       Reacher soon gets to demonstrate his skills, in a confrontation with two armed yokels, giving Chang a quick lesson in just how capable he is:

     "You could have been killed."
     Reacher nodded.
     "Many times," he said. "But all long ago. Not today. Not by these guys."
     "You're crazy."
     "Or competent."
       As amateur as the locals are, they're somehow well-connected. Eyes and ears are being kept on Chang and Reacher, and the level of surveillance ranges way beyond the local kid who followed Reacher around and the motel owner who keeps an eye on the rooms: there's a real pro who takes over, and is pretty well able to follow almost their every move. And there are soon a lot of moves: as almost always, Reacher's investigation takes them far and wide. Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, among other places. They fly and drive around a lot: Child likes to bring his characters on site, and likes those sites to be at considerable distances; it's perhaps the oddest tic to the Reacher novels (and an often rather tiresome one).
       One connection they establish is between whatever Keever was working on and a reporter for The Los Angeles Times named Westwood. Some story he worked on grabbed the interest of the person Keever seems to have been hired by, and Reacher and Chang begin to connect the dots. They figure out who hired Keever, and then they figure out -- at least in a very general way -- what he was interested in: something to do with the Deep Web, the dark underbelly of the internet that remains not just unseen by most web-users, but in fact very well hidden.
       Along the way there is, of course, trouble. A lot of trouble. Chang and Reacher's movements are carefully monitored, and once they start getting close to something -- or someone -- lives start being in danger. First and foremost their own, but also those of the ones they want to talk to. This leads to confrontations, and Reacher is very good at confrontations. As is Child in describing them, as he goes into slow-motion mode, describing almost every slow click and frame of Reacher's mind and movements.
       Yes, some of this is silly:
     Reacher said nothing. We can't fight thirty people. To which Reacher's natural response was: Why the hell not ? It was in his DNA. Like breathing. He was an instinctive brawler. His greatest strength, and his greatest weakness. He was well aware of that, even as he ran through the mechanics of the problem in his mind, one against thirty. The first twelve were easy. He had fifteen rounds in the Smith, and wouldn't miss with more than three.
       But the (somewhat) more realistic close up and more evenly matched confrontations are, always, neatly presented, blow by blow by slow blow. Reacher even takes one or two to the head, enough for a concussion that actually makes him slightly vulnerable going forward, a rare case of weakness which he has difficulty dealing with.
       For comic-action relief there's also an entertaining detour when they need a big pile of cash, as they go to pick up some money -- a whole lot of money -- in an operation way beyond the peripheries of anything legal.
       The mystery remains, for a long time. There is obviously a lot of money and some real talent behind whatever hornet's nest Chang and Reacher are poking at, and the connection with Mother's Rest -- strictly amateur hour on the local level, but certainly well-connected and behaving like they have a lot to protect -- remains unclear. What kind of operation would have Mother's Rest as a vital hub ?
       Reacher senses, from early on, that there's something wrong with the picture, but he has trouble putting his fingers on what it could be. It gnaws at him for a while: "There's something I can't remember, but I know it's important". Eventually they do figure out what led Keever to Mother's Rest -- and it is something dark from the Deep Web. But, as they realize, not quite dark or big enough: there's just too much money in play
       It's only in the final showdown, as they return to Mother's Rest and draw the noose tight around the center of operation that they uncover the unspeakable truth, a nasty second layer to what they had originally figured out (and definitely not something for weak stomachs).
       It makes for a satisfying thriller. There are elements that don't quite work: as always, the over-extensive travel, and then some of Reacher's concussion-wooziness (showing Reacher as vulnerable, but to such a limited extent that it's largely just a kind of annoyance). But the action is packed, and the confrontations and how they play out are very well done (and nicely varied).
       Reacher's reach beyond the legal is slightly disconcerting here: when attacked, it's understandable that he reacts with lethal force, but the way he puts down several people here certainly at least comes close to crossing all sorts of lines. Sure, they deserve it, and no one will miss them; nevertheless .....
       Oh, and there's also the (inevitable ?) romance (well, hook-up) between Chang and Reacher. Not exactly the most convincing pairing-up, but, hey, they're working and travelling together for a while, so what the hell.
       Make Me is a fine Jack Reacher thriller, offering all the usual pleasures in a solid story (if also with a very disturbing final reveal of what this has all been about -- though at least Child leaves it to the very end and doesn't wallow in it). Some of the dialogue is excellent, and most of the action is very good too, making for a consistently engaging read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 19 April 2019

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Make Me: Reviews: Lee Child: Other books by Lee Child under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       British author Lee Child was born in 1954.

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© 2019-2024 the complete review

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