Make Me — Lee Child

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Welcome to Mother’s Rest. <shiver of terror>

While the group found this to be a compelling read, we agreed that in the end, the subject matter was extremely distasteful.  Watching the story unfold, being in the minds of both the good guys and the bad guys, and looming question of just what the heck was going on kept us moving through the story.  But it was the last quarter of the book or so where most of us started to turn away in disgust.

We had a real problem with Jack Reacher, who does have has some sort of code of conduct, but his brand of vigilante justice operates so far outside the law, that he seems to be thisclose to being just like the bad guys.  We agreed that it was hard to care about the story when we didn’t care about the main character.  We found it very disturbing, seeing as how he doesn’t express remorse and feels he’s totally justified in his actions.

Favorite – Westwood, the journalist; Chang, who was called faithful; Keever; the waitress in the cafe; the maid at the motel; and Peters’ neighbor lady.

Least favorite – Everybody else; Reacher; the bad guys; the boss guy with the ironed jeans and blow-dried hair; Russian mob guy; the main gang; the Moynahan brothers.

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Midnight in Peking – Paul French

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The group found this to be a compelling story and an interesting look at an era and part of the world with which not all of us were terribly familiar.

It was also an interesting look at the politics within the politics.  The investigation of the murder was doomed from the start, what with the Chinese detective being hamstrung by his superiors and the English detective being hamstrung by his superiors.  Then there was just poor detecting and general muck ups by people.  The English guy seemed to do okay, but one of his guys mucked up.  And the Chinese guy mucked up and/or was on the take.  But they were encouraged not to solve anything.

We found that the author did a good job of making the reader feel a certain way about certain characters at certain times in the book.  And then was able to make the reader have the complete opposite take about those characters in a different part of the book.

The dad was originally portrayed as a goofball, but then later portrayed as a together, driven kind of guy.  The two detectives were originally portrayed as having their poop together and then later, the holes in their investigations were pointed out in a way to make them look bad.

All in all, a rather creative way to deal with a nonfiction subject.

The group mostly liked the story, even if they found it a bit tedious.  The history was fascinating, though there too many characters and they were hard to keep track of.  There were also issues with understanding the locale.  While a map was provided in the book, it wasn’t necessarily the clearest thing to understand.

The victim herself came up for analysis and we agreed that while the common photo of her made her look mature beyond her years, in reality, we understood that she really was quite young and could relate to her attempts to move in more grown-up circles.

As is often the case in true stories, there wasn’t a clear resolution, so therefore, some found the ending unsatisfactory in a literary sense.  In a historical sense, however, it rang true.

Favorite character — English detective Dennis, Werner, Pamela

Least favorite – Chinese detective Han, Sydney Yeates, the schoolmaster, Prentice the dentist, Fitzmaurice and his successor because they were more interested in protecting the British image than in solving the murder, Werner.