61 Hours is number 14 in the Jack Reacher series. It’s not considered one of Lee Child’s finest novels. Part of this comes down to the fact that Lee Child mixed things up a little, which strikes me as a useful way of keeping the series fresh. Some good people die in the story and there’s no romantic sub-plot. It says something about Lee Child that he can pull off an incredibly readable and satisfying story in one of his less positively received novels. I certainly enjoyed reading it.
Like other Jack Reacher novels, it follows a defined structure:
- The opening (prologue)
- A mysterious situation
- Reacher goes on the offensive
- Revealing the truth, and the climactic confrontation
- The denouement (almost nonexistent in this one)
The novel is interesting because it shows Reacher in a slightly different light. He’s more of a loner in this story and the tone is one of loss tinged with melancholy. Like Lee Child’s other small town stories, this is more of a slow buildup. It takes its time and while it attempts to make up for the slow pace at the end it doesn’t quite pull it off. This one is more mystery than action, which is arguably the key quality of all the Reacher novels, a good old fashioned mystery yarn. There’s a feeling that a romance might have happened, but it never takes place. The ending is abrupt, provoking unresolved questions about what might have happened to Jack Reacher.