Archive for the ‘From The Author’ Category

Online Piracy: It’s Way Past Time to do Something About It.

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Do writers, musicians and film-makers deserve to be paid for their work? I think most people would agree that they do.  Does anyone have the right to create electronic versions of someone else’s work and sell it or give it away over the Internet without compensating the copyright holders? Of course not.  Unfortunately Internet piracy of intellectual property is expanding exponentially and so far, at least, no one seems willing or able to do much about it.

A couple of weeks ago, on Friday January 20, leaders in both houses of Congress delayed action on two anti-piracy bills that, if passed, would have provided some measure of protection not only to major media companies including commercial publishers but also to individual writers, artists, filmakers and musicians against the wholesale theft of their work on the Internet.

The bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA, in the Senate were designed to provide greater powers to law enforcement agencies in the US to crack down on foreign websites that were suspected of wholesale piracy of music, movies and electronic versions of books. Some of the pirates even scan paper versions of popular books that aren’t available as ebooks , convert them to electronic files, and sell them or give them away for free. Naturally neither the creators nor licensed distributors of these works (the publishers) make a dime on these transactions.

Unfortunately, the proposed legislation created a firestorm of protest, most of it directed at congressional supporters of the bills.   Big name Internet companies including Google, Wikipedia and Twitter as well as civil liberties groups lobbied against them claiming that the powers granted by the bills were too broadly defined and could effectively inhibit freedom of speech.

According to an article published in the NY Times on January 20,  the problem apparently stems from the fact that some of the larger websites that legitimately sell copyrighted content also sell unauthorized content. “Megaupload and similar sites, like RapidShare and MediaFire, are often promoted as convenient ways to transfer large files legitimately; a recent promotional video had major stars like of the Black Eyed Peas singing Megaupload’s praises. But media companies say the legitimate uses are a veil concealing extensive theft.”

One of the commenters to the Times articles, a man named Peter Sykes, put the issue well. Mr Sykes said “…the copyright owner is the one who gets to decide if they want to give their product away, not some third party – who BTW is profiting from someone else’s creation. That’s greed.

If Ben & Jerry’s want to give away a free scoop of ice cream every Tuesday as a promotion that’s their choice. If you just decide to walk into the shop and grab a scoop without paying for it that’s called theft. It’s really very simple.

I’m sure if (someone) had spent his time, energy and resources creating a song, a book, a movie etc. he wouldn’t be as keen on the idea of other people making that work available for free without his consent.

Consumers wanting free product, that’s greed.

Making copy written creations available for downloading without authorization is theft.

Perhaps Google and the others have a point and the SOPA and PIPA legislation went too far. I don’t know.  But I do think Congress absolutely has to come up with legislation that effectively prohibits the unauthorized online distribution of copyrighted material.  And I urge anyone who agrees with this to start tweeting about it.

“Hey, it’s fiction. Who cares if it’s accurate?”

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

The summer before last I attended an International Thriller Writers get together at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan.  One of the better-attended sessions over the three days of the conference was an interview and discussion with Harlan Coben, whose books regularly hit the best seller lists and one of which, Tell No One, was made into a successful French movie starring a British actress, Kristin Scott Thomas (who speaks pretty good French) complete with subtitles.  (Yes, I know Coben’s books usually take place in New Jersey. This movie was definitely French.)

Anyway, I digress. At the conference, one member of the audience asked Coben how much research he does when writing his books.

“None,” replied Coben.

“Then how do you know if what you are writing is accurate?”

“I don’t,” Coben said. “My books are fiction. I don’t pretend that they’re anything else. I don’t really care if they’re accurate or not. All I care about is whether people enjoy reading them.”

I remember the exchange so clearly because at the time I found it troubling.

Unlike Coben,  I spend a fair amount of time and go to some lengths to assure the technical accuracy of what I write about.

My first novel The Cutting is typical.  The Cutting is a story about illegal heart transplants.  Before I wrote a single word for the book about transplant procedures, I read at least a dozen articles and watched a number of videos that describe and show the operation in detail. I talked to three cardiac surgeons about how one goes about removing a heart from one human body and then implanting it in another. I researched the instruments and tools required for the job, learning among other things how heart-lung machines work and the brand name of the saw most typically used  to cut through the sternum and open the rib cage to get at the heart (Stryker, in case anyone is interested).

I also spent several hours with the transplant co-ordinator at Maine Medical Center discussing where hearts come from, who co-ordinates the process and who would be eligible or ineligible for such a procedure. Before publication, I sent my (almost) final manuscript to an old friend and college classmate who was and is a transplant surgeon at the Iowa Heart Center in Des Moines for a final fact check. He said I got almost everything right but suggested a few small changes, which I made.

All in all, at least a hundred hours and maybe more went into this research.

Was it really necessary for a reader’s enjoyment of the story?  Probably not.  Could the time have been better spent writing and polishing the manuscript? Possibly. Undoubtedly, most of my readers probably wouldn’t have known the difference if I’d fudged it. And for those few who happen to be cardiac surgeons and would recognize an inaccuracy, I can always adopt Coben’s retort. “Hey, it’s fiction. Who cares if it’s accurate?”

Harlan Coben has published a dozen or more successful books. I’ve published two, neither even remotely successful as most of his.  Coben’s been number one on the New York Times best-seller list.  I haven’t gotten anywhere close to that lofty status.

Still, as I close in on the finish of my third novel, Darkness First, I find myself spending more time than I probably should researching exactly how much of what drug a murderer should put in his tranquilizer dart to make sure the victim’s vicious rottweiler goes to sleep and stays asleep until the murderous deed is done.

Maybe Coben’s right.  Maybe this kind of obsessiveness about accuracy isn’t necessary.  Somehow I just like it better that way.

The Gigantic Website That Ate Up the World

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

By James Hayman

Decades ago, one of my favorite Bill Cosby skits was called The Gigantic Chicken-Heart That Ate Up The World. Or maybe it wasn’t the world. Maybe it was just The Gigantic Chicken-Heart That Ate Up the New Jersey Turnpike. From a distance of thirty years I can’t quite remember exactly which it ate up but in either case it was something big and indigestible.

These days Amazon is beginning to feel a little too much like that gigantic chicken-heart to me.

As we all know, Amazon created the modern on-line retail model. In the process, it almost single-handedly changed the way readers buy books (online) and the way readers read books (on Kindles).  I dare say we’d be hard-pressed to find any reader today who hasn’t at some time or other purchased books from Amazon. And that includes even staunch supporters of local independent booksellers like me.

I’ve always thought the power and appeal of Amazon lay in its role as a ubiquitous product delivery system. A way for readers to find and buy virtually any book by any author anywhere in the world pretty much instantly and usually at a discounted price.

Now, however, it seems the Gigantic Amazon Chicken-Heart has just started devouring another  large mouthful of the book world.  According to a fascinating article written by David Streitfeld in last Sunday’s New York Times, today’s Amazon is not just competing with bookstores, it’s also started competing with traditional publishers, agents, publicists and reviewers.

In 2011, the company is publishing 122 books in both traditional and electronic formats. It’s also paying some pretty hefty advances for books by name authors.  Streitfeld’s article mentions an $800,000 advance paid to actress and director Penny Marshall for an upcoming memoir.

Streitfeld quotes an agent and e-book publisher named Richard Curtis who says: “Everyone’s afraid of Amazon. If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.”

Streitfeld also quotes an Amazon executive named  Russell Grandinetti: “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now,” says Grandinetti, “are the writer and reader…Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”

As a thriller writer, my books (The Cutting, The Chill of Night) have been published by a number of commercial publishers in various countries around the world: St. Martin’s/Minotaur in the US, Penguin in the UK, Random House in Germany among others. In spite of this relative success,  I was interested enough by the new Amazon phenomenon that I went to Amazon Author Central to see what I could learn. What I learned was yes, indeed, Amazon can do it all.

I’m writing this blog because I’m not sure how I feel about this agglomeration of power in the hands of one gigantic company.

On the positive side of the ledger, Amazon does help unknown writers get their works out there and helps them attract the attention of readers through its publicity and review services.  It also offers writers the promise of larger royalty payments on the books they do sell. And, as always, it offers readers a virtually unlimited choice of books, most delivered to their doorsteps overnight or in two days.

On the negative side, it all feels a little too much like Big Brother.  I worry for the survival of independent publishers, independent bookstores and independent agents. I know my agent and editors personally and like and value their opinions. I know my local booksellers and wish them nothing but success.  I’d hate to see any or all of them replaced by a website.

You can read the entire Streitfeld piece, “Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal” at:

As writers and readers, I’d like to know how you all feel. I invite your comments.

Barbara Ross interviews me.

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Recently I was interviewed by Maine mystery writer Barb Ross, author of The Death of an Ambitious Woman.  Here’s the complete text of the interview.

A Conversation with James Hayman

Thriller fans have gotten to know Portland Police Department Detectives Michael McCabe and Magie Savage in James Hayman’s edge of the seat thrillers The Cutting and The Chill of Night.  Here’s a closer look at Hayman himself.

Barb Ross:  In 2001, you left New York City and the advertising industry behind to write thrillers in Portland, Maine.  What inspired such a radical change? Was the adjustment difficult?  How do you feel about it now?

Jim Hayman:  I was in the ad business for more than twenty five years and always wanted to write a thriller. By 2001 I was getting to an age where I had to ask myself Rabbi Hillel’s famous question, “If not now, when?”

I have to say transitioning from writing and producing TV commercials to writing thrillers was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Advertising’s a great training ground for thriller writing. Which is probably why so many ex-admen do it, including some pretty famous ones like James Patterson, Ted Bell, Stuart Woods, Chris Grabenstein and Marcus Sakey.

In a TV commercial you have to tell your whole story in thirty or sixty seconds so you have to learn to write tight. No wasted words allowed. You also develop a good ear for dialogue.  Anyone who’s read either of my books, The Cutting or The Chill of Night knows they’re both dialogue heavy. I use dialogue to move the story along.

To answer the final part of your question, while I miss the twice monthly paycheck the agency business afforded me, I thoroughly enjoy what I do now.

Barb:  Which brings us to setting.  What makes Portland, Maine a good setting for a series?  Are there any things about it that inhibit or confine you?

Jim:  For me, Portland is an almost perfect location. It offers everything I could want for a series of suspense novels.  Great architecture. An almost endless array of good bars and restaurants in which my hero, Mike McCabe, can enjoy his favorite single malt scotch and a New York strip steak. A gritty urban setting in which my corpses can be found..

I also like Maine’s often extreme weather which I use to advantage in both books. “Fog can be a sudden thing on the Maine coast” is the opening line of Chapter 1 in The Cutting.  For its part, The Chill of Night takes place in the middle of one of the coldest winters Maine has experienced in many years and the body of attorney Lainie Goff’s is found frozen solid in the trunk of her BMW convertible which is illegally parked at the end of the Portland Fish Pier.

Barb:  Your protagonist, Detective Sgt. Michael McCabe works for the Portland Police Department’s Crime Against People Unit.  Is there such a thing? If not, why did you invent it and what does it do?

Jim:  Crimes Against People is the real thing.  In Portland, police detectives work either in Crimes Against People which handles things like murder, rape and assault, or they work in Crimes Against Property which includes burglary and theft.

My key source who told me all about this is retired Portland Detective Sergeant Tom Joyce who once held McCabe’s job as the lead guy in Crimes Against People.  Whenever I’ve had a question about how things are really done Tom has been very generous in providing me with answers.

Barb:  Both of your books, The Cutting and The Chill of the Night were both very well reviewed.  Do you get nervous about reviews?  Do you read them?  Take them to heart?

Jim:  I’m not sure nervous is the right word, but I certainly look forward to the reviews and always read them when they come out. Frankly, I can’t imagine why any writer wouldn’t.  Who could resist reading praise for what they’ve done? And who wouldn’t at least glance at the vitriol?

Happily, with one notable exception, all of the reviews of both my books have been good, some very good and more than a few I can only call fabulous.

I have all the positive ones downloaded on my computer and when the going gets tough and I start thinking that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing trying to write a book, I open them up and re-read them to help convince myself I really can do it. My wife has actually printed a large blow-up of Lloyd Ferriiss’s review of The Chill of  Night and hung it from the wall of the room at home I use for writing.

The one lousy review I mentioned earlier was the first review of my first book, The Cutting, and to call it a stinker is an understatement. I occasionally look at that one as well. Not to cheer myself up or to find humility but just to quietly snarl at the reviewer.

Barb:  What’s coming next?  What are you working on now?

Jim:  I’m about two thirds of the way through my third thriller. The title (at least for now) is Darkness First. Unlike the first two, most of the action in number three takes place outside of Portland, in Washington County, Maine. Also the main protagonist isn’t Mike McCabe but his partner Detective Maggie Savage.  Aside from the fact that I think it’s a good story, I wanted to see if I could write an entire book almost exclusively from a female POV.

Banned Books Week: Censorship is Alive and Well and Living in America

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

By James Hayman

From September 24th to October 1st the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and a number of other like-minded organizations are sponsoring something called Banned Books Week: A Celebration of the Freedom to Read.  During that week hundreds of bookstores and libraries around the country will be putting up displays and hosting events to call attention to the continuing problem of censorship in America. As writers and readers I believe we should all support their efforts.

In spite of our supposedly sacrosanct first amendment protections, the tradition of censoring and banning books in America has a long and ignoble history.

In 1873 the US Congress passed the Comstock Act which made it illegal to send obscene materials through the mail. Since publishers used the mail to ship books to booksellers, Comstock and later a number of other state and local statutes, effectively put the kibosh on any printed material deemed by those in power to be obscene. Among the books that were “banned in Boston” were James Joyce’s Ulysses, DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.

When I was a teenager attending a New England boarding school, I remember reading a contraband copy of Tropic of Cancer that had been smuggled into my dormitory. The book was passed from room to room where one boy after another breathlessly read Miller’s sexually charged prose, usually after “lights out” and almost always with the aid of a flashlight. I don’t think any of us were permanently damaged by the experience.

While most censorship statutes were eventually struck down by the Supreme Court as infringements on first amendment rights, censorship, most often at the dictate of local school boards, marches on.

It seems extraordinary (and more than a little quaint) to me that today, in the age of Internet, when virtually anything is available to just about anyone’s eyes at the click of a mouse, that schools and libraries around the country are still banning books.  And not just pornographic or salacious books either, but genuine classics like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Toni Morrison’s Beloved among others .

And while these books are at least arguably intended for mature audiences, many children’s classics have not been spared the censor’s steely gaze. Assigning Mark Twain’s Huck Finn as required reading in schools has been controversial for years, (usually because of its use of the so-called N word.) J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, which, as we all know, tell the story of a young wizard and his adventures in wizard school, have been opposed by some who find their focus on wizardry and magic religiously offensive.  And Katherine Paterson’s Newbery Award winner Bridge to Terabithia has been challenged as recommended reading by school boards all over the country (including Lincoln, Nebraska, Burlington, Connecticut, Apple Valley, California, Mechanicsburg, PA. and, closer to home, Medway, Maine) because of references to witchcraft and profanity, most notably the use of the phrases like “Oh Lord” and “Lord” as expletives.

To learn more about Banned Books Week, click on the link:

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

One of my favorite films from the 60’s is Tony Richardson’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner starring a very young Tom Courtenay.  The film is based on a short story by Alan Sillitoe who also wrote the screenplay.  It tells the story of a rebellious young man from England who is arrested for robbing a bakery and is sent to a boys reformatory or a borstal as the Brits call it. While there he discovers that he has a gift for long-distance running and much of the film is about how his lonely reveries while running mile after mile, ultimately shape and change his life.

In my view the film provides an excellent metaphor for the craft of writing.

Writing is a solitary, if not anti-social pursuit.  It’s something you must do alone. If the piece you’re writing happens to be a three or four hundred page novel you have to plan on being alone for incredibly long stretches of time.  If you crave or need constant or even frequent attention and interaction with other people, the best advice anyone can give you about writing a novel is don’t.

The single line I remember most clearly from Annie Dillard’s excellent memoir The Writing Life, (which I read several years ago) is her response to a reader’s question about what makes the ideal writing space.

Dillard, at the time, lived in a beautiful house overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Washington and this reader no doubt was expecting Dillard to describe a cozy, book-filled study with endless views of endless waves lapping against the magnificent coastline. Instead she said that the ideal writing room, at least for her, was a cinderblock cell devoid of books, telephone, television and even windows through which she could catch a glimpse of the outside world.

Like Dillard, I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful house overlooking the ocean in Maine.  My designated writing room is a small, admittedly book-lined room on the second floor of my house and it boasts one of the prettiest views anyone could ever imagine of Casco Bay and the islands stretching out in the distance.  When I write I close the shades and shut it all out. I also turn off the telephone and disconnect myself from the Internet.

Even writers who prefer writing in crowded places, coffee shops for example, or libraries (where I often write) or while riding on trains or planes, essentially have to be alone inside their own minds and imaginations while they craft their pieces. Their only company are the characters who people their stories (whom I sometimes describe as my imaginary friends). The only interesting conversations they get to engage in are the dialogue exchanges they put in their characters’ mouths. The only beautiful views, or views of any sort, they can enjoy are the ones gazed on by the characters in their tales.

All of this makes me, if not other writers, something of a curmudgeon.  When my wife gently knocks on my door, usually to ask me a civil and often necessary question, my typical response is a low dangerous growl. Cujo in spectacles.

I am currently on deadline to finish my third novel and so I spend all my working time by myself. I’ll be happy when the book is finally finished.  So, I daresay, will my wife and any friends I still have left, those who I haven’t totally driven away.

Casting Aspersions: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher????Yikes.

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Before I started writing novels, I wrote, produced and cast about a zillion TV commercials for clients like Ford, the US Army, Merrill Lynch and a bunch of other less glamorous clients including Tide detergent.  I always believed a lot of the success of an ad campaign depended on casting the right actor in the right role.  I’ve always believed the same thing about a movie or, for that matter, a TV series.

So when I read this morning that someone had decided to cast Tom Cruise in the Jack Reacher role in the movie version of Lee Child’s One Shot, I had a hard time believing it.

Reacher is everything Cruise isn’t. And vice versa.  In fact, I find it difficult to think of a an actor who would be a worse choice to play Jack Reacher than Tom Cruise with the only possible exception being Danny DeVito. And DeVito, at least, would be more fun to watch in the role.

I have to admit I like the Reacher books. I’ve read most, if not all of the fifteen or sixteen thrillers in the series, and while some are better than others, I almost always enjoy them. Over the years I think I’ve gotten to know the hero pretty well.

Here are some of the things all Lee Child fans know about Jack Reacher.

He’s tall.  Six-foot-five (Cruise is five-foot-seven).

He’s tough.  He can usually beat the crap out of half a dozen oversized baddies with one hand tied behind is back.

He’s taciturn. He doesn’t blather on for the sake of hearing himself talk. Nor does he constantly grin at the reader (or the camera).

Unlike Cruise, Reacher doesn’t give a damn about looking cool, chic or fashionable. He generally buys the cheapest possible clothes at someplace like Wal-Mart or Goodwill and then throws them away when they get dirty instead of washing them. (Obviously, casting Reacher as a spokesperson in a Tide commercial would be nearly as bad a choice as casting Cruise as Reacher).

On top of that Reacher can be a seriously nice guy who really wants to help those in trouble (a trait that usually gets him into even worse trouble , the getting out of which constitutes the main plot line of most of the books).

Tom Cruise is none of these things.

You may or may not like Tom Cruise as an actor. I have to admit he’s not one of my favorites.  In fact, the last Tom Cruise character I actually liked was Maverick in Tony Scott’s Top Gun and that movie was made twenty-five years ago back in 1986.

So far, nobody’s offered to make a movie of either of my books, so you may legitimately ask, who am I to judge? If they asked Tom Cruise to play the role of my hero, Mike McCabe, I’d probably just smile nicely and say, “Gee. What a great idea.”

Maybe I’m nuts. Maybe Tom Cruise will make a fabulous Jack Reacher.  But somehow I don’t think so. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments and perhaps suggestions on who should be playing the part.

Tami Hoag, Pat Conroy, Alan Furst and me. Pretty good company!

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

The Cutting…same book, new cover…comes out in the UK the first week of January 2011.

Penguin UK is introducing McCabe to British readers with lots of great display in some of the top stores and supermarket chains. Pat Conroy. Tami Hoag, Alan Furst, C.J. Box and Me! Pretty good company if I do say so myself!

Great shelf position in London!

Great shelf position in London!

Here’s a photo of one supermarket display rack.

Other than Hannibal Lecter, who is the best (or worst) antagonist (or villain) of all time?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

I was recently invited by the International Thriller Writers’ Big Thrill blog to participate in a roundtable discussion with five other thriller writers (Raymond Benson, C.E. Lawrence, George Eby, Grant Blackwood and Hank Phillippi Ryan) and decide (as if that were possible) the best (or worst) villains ever.

What follows is a list my initial choices.  You can follow the whole discussion and even put in your two cents worth at:

Here’s what I wrote:

All time covers a lot of time.  If you want to go back roughly 2,500 years to 400 BC, Euripedes’ Medea comes to mind.  She earned her stripes as a nasty piece of work by murdering her own two children simply to spite their father.  A little more recently, just 400 years ago in 1607, a writer named Will Shakespeare created another nifty female antagonist named Lady MacBeth. And Othello’s pal, Iago, was no slouch either.

But instead of covering all time, I’ll stick to the last fifty years or so. And instead of going by reputation, I’ll stick to books and writers I’ve actually read.

Lechter was, of course, terrific.  So too is his female counterpart, Gretchen Lowell in Chelsea Cain’s series Sweetheart, Heartsick and Evil at Heart.

But I wouldn’t rank either of those as the best.

For me the honor of being most chilling antagonist of all goes to Patrick Bateman in Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. I rate Bateman so high because I can actually imagine him existing in real life. In fact, I think I’ve seen him prowling around a few of my favorite downtown bars and restaurants. Truly creepy.

Other candidates on my list include in no particular order:

  • Max Cady in John D. McDonald’s Cape Fear.
  • Tom Ripley in Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s The Shining. I must admit I’m not sure if the real antagonist in The Shining isn’t Torrance but the hotel, The Overlook.  I’ll leave it to you to decide.
  • A very different but, in her own way, equally horrifying antagonist is thirteen year old Briony Tallis in Ian McEwan’s Atonement which I happen to think is one of the best novels I’ve read in the last few years.
  • Finally, in a shameless bit of self-promoting, I’ll throw in my own bitch goddess from The Cutting and The Chill of Night, Sandy Ingram.  She’s very easy for readers to hate.

You follow the discussion on the Roundtable and email me your selections for the best or worst villains in recent literature. An interesting exercise for thriller fans.

A Tip of Mike McCabe’s hat to Lee Childs, Jack Reacher and 61 Hours.

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Anyone who’s read my second suspense The Chill of Night knows that the brutally low temperatures of a very, very cold Maine winter play a key role in my story. The victim’s corpse is found frozen solid in the back of her brand New BMW convertible.  The key witness gets lost and almost dies in a horrendous blizzard. And McCabe himself suffers from near frostbite and comes close to losing the toes on both his feet

I just finished reading Lee Childs’ 61 Hours, number 14 in his terrific Jack Reacher series. And while I do like the way I treated cold in The Chill, I think Childs did at least as good and maybe an even better job of it in 61 Hours. The setting is not Maine but the fictional town of Bolton, South Dakota where Reacher discovers a methamphetamine lab run by a vicious 4’11” Mexican drug lord named Plato and located in an abandoned military facility. A with every Reacher book the pacing is perfect and the action nearly nonstop.

But what stayed with me is the brutal cold. Ten below.  Twenty below. Thirty below. On nearly every page Childs vivid descriptions of Reacher shivering and nearly freezing to death made me want to turn the temperature up on my electric blanket.

As in The Chill of Night, the cold, as much as the hero, the victims or the villain is a real character in the Lee Childs’ book.  If you’ve read Childs before, you already know he’s one of the top thriller writers in the business.  If you haven’t read him yet, pick up 61 Hours. You’ll be in for a delicious, if frozen, treat.