In a weird confluence of circumstances, which I have to think could not have been planned, Lee Child and his brother Andrew Grant each have books being released next month, and I will be reviewing both in the Whodunit column of BookPage (www.bookpage.com). I finished the Child book, 61 Hours, earlier this week, and turned the final pages of the Grant, Die Twice, at suppertime this evening.
61 Hours, by my count the fourteenth novel featuring modern-day ronin (and former military policeman) Jack Reacher, finds our hero in South Dakota in the middle of the winter, scratch that, in the middle of a blizzard, an accidental and temporary conscript into the small town police force of Bolton. Bolton would just be a wide spot in the road but for the recent addition of a for-profit prison erected at the edge of town. Now the town is caught up in a drug-related series of killings connected in some strange way to a disused military installation in the South Dakota Badlands, and they need someone with Reacher’s qualifications to help them out. And as Lee Child’s loyal readers will attest, there is nobody with Reacher’s qualifications other than Reacher.
Andrew Grant, fourteen years his brother’s junior, is following in the familial footsteps, with his second novel featuring British secret agent David Trevellyan, Die Twice. Grant’s first novel, Even, met with critical acclaim (including a measure of same from this critic); I noted that the “disenfranchised spook” vein had been mined by others countless times, but rarely as well as by Grant in his debut outing. Trevellyan doesn’t have access to the cool toys of, say, James Bond (Bond gets an Aston Martin, Trevellyan gets a Chrysler station wagon, for example), but he makes do quite well with his instincts and well-honed skills.
The question that arises is, what happens if one of them should win the coveted Mystery of the Month Award (aka “TAFKATOTI”; The Award Formerly Known as Tip of the Icepick)? How will the other one cope? Stay tuned for the answer to this and other pressing mysteries in the next issue of BookPage.