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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Running Blind
(The Visitor)

Lee Child

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To purchase Running Blind

Title: Running Blind
Author: Lee Child
Genre: Novel
Written: 2000
Length: 519 pages
Availability: Running Blind - US
The Visitor - UK
Running Blind - Canada
Un visiteur pour Ophélie - France
Zeit der Rache - Deutschland
Via di fuga - Italia
from: Bookshop.org (US)
  • UK title: The Visitor
  • US title: Running Blind
  • The fourth Jack Reacher novel

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Our Assessment:

B+ : the silliness of the overly-elaborately staged murders aside, very enjoyable

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 22/4/2000 Chris Petit
The NY Times Book Rev. . 23/7/2000 Marilyn Stasio
The Times . 29/4/2000 Peter Millar

  From the Reviews:
  • "(A) professional, efficient mix of hard-boiled style with lots of lip and a revival of the classic locked-room mystery. (...) If the denouement disappoints, Child rewards curiosity along the way with tight, well-worked plotting, pace and high mileage." - Chris Petit, The Guardian

  • "After four books in this raw series, the romantic persona of Child's rootless hero is starting to wear. (...) (F)or all his abrasive, show-off ways, Jack uses honest ingenuity to outwit his adversary." - Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

  • "The pacing is taut, but there are perhaps too many reversed signposts -- I identified the killer long before either Reacher or the FBI. It is credit to Child's narrative skill that I continued to find The Visitor compulsive reading right up to the last page -- if only to be sure that I was right." - Peter Millar, The Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Jack Reacher encountered in Running Blind (published as The Visitor in the UK) -- the fourth in the series, set about three years after Reacher has left the army -- is, in several significant ways, unlike the one readers may have come expect. Famously unencumbered by possessions and nearly always on the move, Running Blind opens with Reacher not only owning a house but also with a serious girlfriend. It hasn't gotten to the point where they are cohabitating -- Reacher's house is in Garrison, New York, and girlfriend Jodie Jacob is a high-powered lawyer, on the cusp of making partner at a big firm in New York City -- but this is a very settled situation for Reacher, certainly compared to those we find him in in almost all the other books in the series. No fear, however: Reacher hasn't gone completely domestic. And, while he still owns the house and is with Jodie (more or less ...), at the end of the book, neither figures too prominently in the story. Mostly, Reacher is -- as usual -- on the move, caught up in a case that fits and can satisfy his restless naturel (not that he is thrilled by what he gets roped into -- or rather, how he gets roped into it. ).
       The novel begins with a short scene printed in italics which, as readers can guess, puts us in the mind of a murderer -- the perpetrator of the crimes whom Reacher will be called on to hunt down. There are more such brief glimpses of the killer at work throughout the novel, and from the first it's clear that we are dealing with someone who is, in many ways, like Reacher: thinking things through and planning ahead very carefully and thoroughly, well-trained, and intelligent; like Reacher, they know: "knowledge is power. The more knowledge, the more power".
       After this brief glimpse into the killer's mind, the scene then shifts to Reacher, dining by himself in a Manhattan restaurant he's taken to. He sees that the owner is being shaken down by two goons in the protection racket -- just the kind of injustice he can't bear. He takes matters into his own big hands and teaches the goons a lesson, sending them away with a message for their boss, a man named Petrosian. One problem solved -- except that it becomes something of a millstone. (Among the pleasing things about the plotting of Running Blind is how Child keeps bringing in and using the consequences of this one small encounter throughout the novel. )
       After he drives *home* -- it's still hard to think of Reacher as having any sort of place one can call 'home' -- he's picked up by the FBI. It turns out they have been following him for over a week now -- amazingly (and, again, atypically for the so observant and careful Reacher) he has to admit: "'Well, FBI tails are obviously pretty good,' he said. 'I never noticed.'"
       What he did to Petrosian's goons isn't the reason they were tailing him, but it does give them some leverage over him, and they use that, for all it's worth (which turns out to be quite a lot). What they are interested in is another case: two women have been killed, and both had had contact with Reacher in their and his previous life, in the army. There's a serial killer on the loose, and it looks like the killer is targeting female sexual harassment complainants who subsequently quit the military. FBI profilers led by Julia Lamarr have been trying to form a picture of who the perpetrator might be -- and the profile they come up with sounds an awful lot like Reacher. And while they then do cross him off their list, they remain convinced it's someone like him.
       Reacher doesn't take to Lamarr at all, and is relatively hostile to the whole investigation -- not least because Army and FBI generally don't get along. But he also doesn't give much credit to their profiling efforts. As he eventually says:

They're wasting their time with this profiling shit. It won't get them anywhere. They need to work the clues.
       More or less blackmailed into helping out, Reacher first grudgingly but then more eagerly does. He gets an FBI minder, the attractive Lisa Harper -- over six feet tall, twenty-nine (but looking sixteen ...). She proves competent and is a decent sidekick -- with some sexual tension in the air all the while then, especially once they spend more time together.
       Reacher and Harper drive and fly around a lot -- Running Blind is a typical Reacher-novel in that there is a ridiculous amount of travel involved -- which also gives Reacher time to mull over what he wants out of life -- or rather how he wants to lead it. As Harper recognizes, he's:
     "A wanderer."
     "It's important to me."
     "How important, though ?"
     He shrugged. "I don't know, exactly."
       And, yes, Running Blind is a novel where Reacher tries to figure put what kind of life he wants to lead. Though, of course, we -- and he -- all know what that is .....
       The murders being investigated -- soon enough there's a third woman dead, killed in exactly the same way -- are certainly baffling. The killer leaves no traces behind, and the killings themselves are bizarrely staged, without any signs of the victims struggling. Even how the victims are actually killed stumps the investigators. There's meticulous planning involved, in these crimes being committed in the far reaches of the country.
       Eventually, Reacher figures it all out -- and then the race is on, to see whether he and Harper can get to the next victim before the killer does, the narrative then moving back and forth with more urgency as both killer and Reacher close in.
       If not completely obvious, most readers will probably have suspected who the killer is, but Child takes his time in fully revealing how the crimes are committed. It's fairly silly and unrealistic -- and seems way too elaborate -- but the strangeness of the crimes is intriguing enough. And Child saves the conclusion from being a mere justice-is-served wrap-up with a few nice little last twists and tweaks, the FBI wanting to frame the resolution to their satisfaction but Reacher having a few nice aces up his sleeve.
       The dialogue-heavy novel is a bit basic in parts, and the crimes at its heart too silly, but Child has this plotted out well and sustains suspense throughout, with the final twists, once the perpetrator has been put out of action, particularly satisfying. As to Reacher's experiments in domesticity -- of which there was practically nothing to see in the novel -- , it's pretty clear where that is headed too, with Reacher having reached a decision regarding the house, and with Jodie making partner at her law firm by the end of the novel .....
       There is some clumsiness and silliness here, but Running Blind is a very good lightweight thriller, an easily enjoyable read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 24 July 2022

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Running Blind: Reviews: Lee Child: Other books by Lee Child under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       British author Lee Child was born in 1954.

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