A new TV series shows the laconic hero dispatch the bad guys with balletic ease. If only real life were like thatIt’s 25 years since James Grant, who had recently been made redundant from his position as an executive at Granada TV, published his first Jack Reacher thriller under the pseudonym Lee Child. There are now more bestselling books than years separating the author from his former career. The stories follow the dealings of the eponymous Reacher, a demobbed military policeman, who wanders the US unencumbered by possessions save a toothbrush and a passport. Along the way he solves crimes and deals comprehensively, often violently, with the bad guys. Despite the apparently blokeish content, with its technical descriptions of weaponry, deadpan sentences and lengthy fight scenes, they are nevertheless popular among a number of impeccably distinguished British literary women – Kate Atkinson, Dame Margaret Drabble and Lady Antonia Fraser among them. (And to be fair, not just women: Philip Pullman and the great Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami are also admirers.)Now the books are to have a fresh life, with a new adaptation launched on Amazon this month. Screen versions have stuttered in the past. Fans found it hard to accept neatly proportioned Tom Cruise as Reacher for a pair of movies, since the hero, according to the novels, is 6ft 5in and built like a tank. Also, some of the books’ most salient and attractive features are not so much the twists and turns of plot, but Reacher’s quiet, dry wit; the texture of small-town America; and his passing interactions with waitresses and barbers and librarians – all things that need time to unfurl, a quality that TV can afford. It is likely that fans will be more satisfied with Nick Santora’s adaptations than with the films. In lead actor Alan Ritchson, the makers have found, in the words of Guardian television critic Lucy Mangan, a performer “the size of a house and roughly as expressive unless called upon to be otherwise” – in other words, someone absolutely perfect for the part. Continue reading...
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