Jack Reacher: Die Trying by Lee Child – Book Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings writes a review of the second novel in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, Die Trying, published by Bantam Books.

“An unputdownable, page-turning thriller that is much more entertaining than Child’s first Jack Reacher novel.” ~The Founding Fields

Die Trying is the second in a long running series that follows the adventures of ex-military, current badass Jack Reacher who has been described as one of the strongest characters in thriller novels. He’s certainly entertaining to read about, that’s for sure. Having read the previous novel, Killing Floor, I have no desire to give up my reading on Jack Reacher yet, especially as Die Trying was better than its predecessor. However, it still suffered from a few flaws though, despite its ability to hook you in right from the start.

A Chicago Street in bright sunshine. Jack Reacher, strolling nowhere, meets an attractive young woman, limping, struggling with her crutches, alone. Naturally he stops to offer her a steadying arm and then they turn together—to face twin handguns held level and motionless and aimed straight at their stomachs.

Chained to the woman, locked in a dark, stifling van racing 2,000 miles across America, Reacher needs to know who he’s dealing with. The kidnappers are saying nothing and his companion claims to be Holly Johnson, FBI agent. She’s fierce enough and tough enough, but he knows there must be more to her than that. And at their remote, hostile destination, they will need to act as a team and trust each other, pitting raw courage and cunning against insane violence and seemingly hopeless odds, with their own lives and hundreds more at stake.

The second novel in the Jack Reacher series manages to be as page-turning and action packed as the first one, possibly even more so. Die Trying also increases the tension from the last book, which we knew that Reacher would survive from. However, in Die Trying, the tension increases, and the only thing that makes us believe that Reacher will survive is the fact that there are sequels with the main character in, which is one of the main reasons why I hate coming into a series late. It doesn’t stop me though, for I’ll keep reading if I enjoy them, as was the case with The Dresden Files, and as is the case with Die Trying. I’ll be picking up Tripwire for sure.

The main characters in Die Trying are Jack Reacher, and the FBI agent Holly Johnson, who is predictably Reacher’s love interest in the novel, as I’ve come to understand now that as soon as a main female character is introduced in a Jack Reacher novel, she will inevitability fall in love with Jack Reacher at some point. He’s like a James Bond of sorts, except without the British accent, the gadgets and whole ‘for king and country’ idea. However, Johnson is a strong character, almost as strong as Reacher, and why she is kidnapped introduces a whole new plot aspect in Die Trying. Reacher’s back, although unfortunately, he’s still pretty much the same protagonist as he was at the beginning of the first book. There’s been no developing of Reacher’s character over the course of the two books that I’ve read, and I can only hope that this changes in the novels to come.

The pace, like the first novel, is action packed, explosive and full of entertaining fight scenes which are well written as Child continues to turn up the heat as the novel keeps going, with the stakes getting bigger as the novel goes on. I loved the way that Child wrote the portrayal of the FBI, which is an organization that I have only read about fiction-wise before in Split Second by David Baldacci, which was whilst entertaining, had some flaws, much like Die Trying did.  The story jumps back and forth between Johnson and Reacher’s third-person POV, which gives us a great view on how their characters build their relationship from complete strangers to eventual lovers. Although, due to my experience in the previous novel and my knowledge of the rest of the books to come, I wouldn’t expect Johnson to feature in anymore upcoming novels that I’m aware of, as Reacher is a Lone Wolf-type character, but I wouldn’t mind seeing her again. She’s an interesting character and I preferred her, at least in my opinion, to Roscoe, Reacher’s love interest in Killing Floor.

The novel doesn’t expand on anything developed in Killing Floor, as it merely takes Reacher to a different part of the United States. There wasn’t any stuff like arc words that appeared in this book (or the last, for that matter), to set up for a later addition to the series, making it perfectly okay for a new reader to leap in at Die Trying, or – I think, at any point in the Jack Reacher series, if they are yet to read Killing Floor. However, as it’s the first novel in the series, it was a great place to start.

Verdict: 4/5

More Jack Reacher: Killing Floor, Die Trying, Tripwire, Running Blind (US) / The Visitor (UK), Echo Burning, Without Fail, Persuader, The Enemy (Prequel), One Shot, The Hard Way, Bad Luck and Trouble, Nothing to Lose, Gone Tommorow, 61 Hours, Worth Dying For, The Affair (Prequel).

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer


  • Justin McBride

    Reacher does not evolve due to the fact that Childs wants to write the series as non sequential, ie you can pick up any book in the series and read it as a Stand Alone book. This of course will mean that the character can not develope as we would need to chart his growth, which is against the aims of stand alone issues. Hence the change is only between Jack in the military and Jack the wanderer.

    • Justin McBride

      Honestly, I don’t want him to change, I like his world view and he is old enough to stick to it.