Affair (Child)

The Affair (Jack Reacher series, 16)
Lee Child, 2011
Random House
608 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780440246305

Everything starts somewhere.... For elite military cop Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Carter Crossing, Mississippi, way back in 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A coverup.

A young woman is dead, and solid evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. But that soldier has powerful friends in Washington.

Reacher is ordered undercoverto find out everything he can, to control the local police, and then to vanish. Reacher is a good soldier. But when he gets to Carter Crossing, he finds layers no one saw coming, and the investigation spins out of control.

Local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux has a thirst for justiceand an appetite for secrets. Uncertain they can trust one another, Reacher and Deveraux reluctantly join forces. Reacher works to uncover the truth, while others try to bury it forever. The conspiracy threatens to shatter his faith in his mission, and turn him into a man to be feared.

A novel of unrelenting suspense that could only come from the pen of #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child, The Affair is the start of the Reacher saga, a thriller that takes Reacher—and his readers—right to the edge...and beyond. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—November 30, 1953
Raised—Coventry, England, UK
Education—Sheffield University
Awards—Anthony and the Barry Awards for Best First
   Mystery; Barry and Nero Awards for Best Novel
Currently—lives in New York City, New York, USA

Lee Child, whose real name is Jim Grant, is a British thriller writer. He is the author of 16 Jack Reacher thrillers, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Worth Dying For, 61 Hours, Gone Tomorrow, Nothing to Lose, and Bad Luck and Trouble. His debut, Killing Floor, won both the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery, and The Enemy won both the Barry and the Nero awards for Best Novel. Foreign rights in the Jack Reacher series have sold in more than fifty territories.

Each of Child's novels follows the adventures of a former American Military Policeman, Jack Reacher, who wanders the United States.

Though Grant was born in Coventry, England, his parents moved him and his three brothers to Handsworth Wood in Birmingham when he was four years old, so the boys could get a better education. Grant attended Cherry Orchard Primary School in Handsworth Wood until the age of 11 and was one of the cleverest boys in his year. He attended King Edward's School, Birmingham, also the alma mater of J. R. R. Tolkien and Enoch Powell. His father was a civil servant and his younger brother, Andrew Grant, is also a thriller novelist.

Some of Grant's early influences include Enid Blyton, W.E. Johns, and Alistair MacLean.

In 1974, at age 20, Grant attended law school in Sheffield at Sheffield University, though he had no intention of entering the legal profession and, during his student days, worked backstage in a theatre. Instead, he took a job in commercial television after graduating.

In January 2012, Grant donated £10,000 towards a new vehicle for Brecon Mountain Rescue Team. He offered the donation because his brother is a senior member of the team. The team's former control vehicle was written off after a collision in 2011.

His wife Jane is from New York.

Grant joined Granada Television, part of the UK's ITV Network, in Manchester as a presentation director. There he was involved with shows including Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. Grant was involved in the transmission of more than 40,000 hours of programming for Granada, writing thousands of commercials, news stories, and trailers. He stayed with Granada 1977-1995 and ended his career there with two years as a trade union shop steward.

After being let go from his job because of corporate restructuring, he decided he wanted to start writing novels, stating they are "the purest form of entertainment." In 1997, his first novel, Killing Floor, was published and he moved to the United States in the summer of 1998.

He has said that he chose the name Reacher for the central character in his novels because he is himself tall and, in a supermarket (Asda in Kendal, Cumbria, when he was living in Kirkby Lonsdale), his wife Jane told him: "Hey, if this writing thing doesn't pan out, you could always be a reacher in a supermarket.... I thought, 'Reacher — good name.'" Some books in the Reacher series are written in first person, while others are written in the third person.

In 2007, Grant collaborated with 14 other writers to create the 17-part serial thriller The Chopin Manuscript narrated by Alfred Molina that was broadcast weekly on from 25 September 2007 to 13 November 2007.

On 30 June 2008, it was announced that Lee Child would be taking up a Visiting Professorship at the University of Sheffield in the UK from November 2008. In 2009, Child funded 52 Jack Reacher scholarships for students at the university.

Child was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America in 2009. (From Wikipedia and Barnes & Noble.)

Book Reviews
Mr. Child's 16th book, The Affair, shakes up the status quo by delivering the Reacher creation myth…it presents his most colorful appearance in a long time. It establishes Reacher's idealistic but vengeful personality and lays out the rules by which he lives.
Janet Maslin - New York Times

With Reacher, #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child has created “a series that stands in the front rank of modern thrillers.
Washington Post

Child’s compelling 16th thriller featuring incorruptible vigilante Jack Reacher (after Worth Dying For) rewinds the clock to 1997 when Reacher was still a military cop and working on the case that led to his eventual break with the Army. Reacher must figure out whether the shocking murder of 27-year-old Janice May Chapman in Carter Crossing, Miss., has any connection with nearby Fort Kelham, where Army Rangers are trained. Reacher soon learns that two other women had their throats slit in the same way as Chapman, and the leading suspect is a Fort Kelham captain, whose father is a U.S. senator and die-hard Army supporter. Reacher knows all too well the case has political trouble written all over it—and he and his Army bosses quickly butt heads over how it should be handled. Readers expecting new insight or details into Reacher’s background will be disappointed, but they’ll find all the elements—solid action, wry humor, smart dialogue—that have made this series so popular.
Publishers Weekly

What turned career army cop Jack Reacher into the wandering and deadly version of a knight in rusted armor? In this 16th novel in the highly successful Reacher franchise, Child goes back to small-town Mississippi in 1997. Women have been murdered near a secret Ranger base. The Rangers are suspected, and the official investigation is a mess. Reacher is sent to town disguised as a bum to keep one eye on what might be a flawed army investigation, the other on a series of similar killings in the town, and if he had a third eye, he would use it to cover his back. Verdict: Exciting and suspenseful, with deceit and cover-ups, violence, and sex, this is another great entry in Child's compelling series. Reacher's many fans can only hope there will be many more. Highly recommended for anyone who likes intelligent, well-written, tense thrillers. To the dismay of series fans, the diminutive Tom Cruise is slated to play the six-foot-tall Reacher in a film adaptation of Child's One Shot.—Ed.] —Robert Conroy, Warren, MI
Library Journal

Discussion Questions
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Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for The Affair:

1. How would you describe Jack Reacher? What are the rules he lives by? One of his most famous—"All you need, and nothing you don't"—could almost be called his "credo." What other codes define his life, and what do they say about his character?

2. Why has Reacher left the military?

3. A number of reviewers felt that this book gives the entire Reacher series a much needed boost, that the past several installments in the 16 book series have "jumped the shark," meaning that they had lost their freshness and were rehashing overly familiar ground.  Presuming you've read previous Jack Reacher books, in what way does this book differ from the others in the series?

4. Reacher has always been somewhat mysterious. What background information do you learn about him in The Affair—particularly about his family, as well as some of his idiosyncrasies (obsessions?) that appear in the 15 other Reacher books. In his various recollections and re-interpretations of his life, does Reacher learn anything about himself?

5. Lee Child writes with a degree of humor, which seems odd given that the series is in the suspense/thriller genre, not usually known for humor. What passages did you found funny?

6. What do you think of Sheriff Deveraux? How would you describe her—is she simply a female version of Reacher? Or is she a distinct personality in her own right?

7. What does Reacher mean when he says, "if I ever buy a house, it's going to be next to a railroad train." What's the fascination with trains—and what does it reveal about Reacher's personality?

8. The novel takes place four-and-a-half years before the 9/11 attacks. How does Child portray the US Army? Do you think his portrayal has validity?

9. What role does political connection or privilege play in this novel?

10. Does Child do a good job here of ratcheting up the suspense? Does the novel live up to it's name as a "thriller"?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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