A Book Chosen For Its Cover

I bought Bad Luck and Trouble, by Lee Child, from the used book shelf in Phillip’s office – the shelf that benefits local food banks – without knowing much about it. I bought it with the 2017 Reading Challenge in mind. There are several Categories this book could fulfill, but I chose it because it has a red spine.


Bad Luck and Trouble, by Lee Child, was published in 2007. It’s a Jack Reacher novel.

A man is pushed out of a helicopter three thousand feet above a California desert. Seventeen days later, Jack Reacher is in Portland, Oregon, on his way to somewhere else.

Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s an ex-military man. He knows how to travel light and efficiently. He knows what time it is without looking. He’s a mathematical genius. He chose his ATM PIN for its numerical beauty. He always knows exactly how much money is in his bank account.

Jack Reacher has two rules, learned from a lifetime of bad luck and trouble. First: “Eat when you can, because you never know when the next chance will come.” Second: “Maintain a little dignity.

Jack Reacher withdraws some cash from an ATM for the next part of his journey. He checks his balance, as he always does, and notices that his account has $1,030.00 more than it should.

Has his bank made an error, or is someone sending him a message? If it is a message, what does 1030 mean?

More importantly, if it is a message, how did anyone find him? He’s always moving, he has no cell phone, no email, and no physical address.

Jack Reacher is eventually reunited with the surviving members of his former, elite military unit. Together, they cruise around Los Angeles and Las Vegas, investigating the murder of a colleague – a man who was pushed out of a helicopter over a California desert. They make guesses as to what a key might fit. They hack passwords. They decipher spreadsheets of numbers. They interview family members and former employers. They work with, and against, the LAPD. They work within the law, and outside of it.

Of course, the story is much larger than a man pushed out of a helicopter.

Bad Luck and Trouble is a fine story. It should appeal to fans of Jason Bourne, or maybe even James Bond. It was fun to read about Jack Reacher using his powers of observation to figure out that someone he interviewed was lying to him, and to watch his teammates come up with theories about what those numbers might mean.

Reacher and his team have nothing but their wits, military training, and money, but manage to take on the bad guys. They obtain guns illegally, find the best cars to be inconspicuous, and make a silencer out of a plastic bottle. There are exciting action sequences throughout the book.

Unfortunately, the book didn’t hold my interest. Maybe it was because, at nearly 500 pages long, I felt the book could have been about 200 pages shorter. There seemed to be too many re-groupings at the hotel, just to learn that they still haven’t figured out what the numbers mean. There was just too much of the same things, over and over.

If the whole book was as exciting as the last thirty pages, I would have enjoyed this book a whole lot more than I did.

Now the book’s going back on the bookshelf, for more money for the food banks.

  • A book with a red spine

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