When my editor told me that my new book, Jack and Joe, has a very Rashomon feel, it took me all of 0.225 seconds to decide that was a compliment. A Rashomon feel. That’s exactly what Lee Child and I were striving for when I set out to write this Hunt for Jack Reacher Series (with his blessing, of course!).
Do you know what the Rashomon effect is? I explained it with a handful of examples in a recent blog post. Basically, the Rashomon effect is experienced when we get multiple, often conflicting, accounts of the same event. The movie The Usual Suspects is a good example, but you probably hear it from friends and kids all the time. Remember that old saying that there are several versions to every story? Or, more succinctly put, “he said vs. she said.”
When it comes to Jack Reacher, a Rashomon effect is almost inevitable. The man is so elusive and strategic that he’s bound to be one step ahead of most everyone else around him. Which means he has one story — shown to us through his point of view through Lee Child’s masterful books — and all of Reacher’s cohorts and enemies are a couple pages or more behind him.
My Hunt for Jack Reacher Series follows FBI Special Agents Kim Otto and Carlos Gaspar as they follow Reacher’s past in search of information about him because he’s wanted for a special assignment only Reacher is qualified to do. Is he fit enough, mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, and every way? Can we rely on Reacher — or not — to do the job?
What’s interesting is that in Lee’s books, Reacher is clearly the hero. But in my books, the waters are murky because Otto and Gaspar are learning about Reacher mainly second- or third- hand, from those who knew him, or those who knew someone who knew him. Reacher transitions from man to myth to legend along Otto and Gaspar’s search. And Otto and Gaspar are constantly skeptical — and that’s their job. To be skeptical. To search and find the truth. Their very lives depend on it.
In Jack and Joe, one of Otto’s interview subjects tells her,
“He was only posted here a few days. In that short time he managed to piss off just about everybody he came in contact with.”
So what’s the truth? Who is this Jack Reacher guy and why does no one want to talk about him? In Jack and Joe, Otto and Gaspar find a willing witness to talk about Jack’s brother, Joe Reacher. Surely, Joe’s history will give them something to work with, because DNA is Destiny.
Good morning, all
Caffeine at the ready, here we go…
I was researching a thought yesterday and found this quote from Lee Childs–Lee Child was quoted as saying, “Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way.”
Reacher’s mother would always ask Reacher the question “What will you do?” and then answer it “The right thing.”
Unstoppable force doing the right thing. From his perspective. The entire opening sequence of PERSUADER is a total exercise in making one thing look like another. For two “right things” in the midst of an off-the-books/renegade DEA operation–finishing a job he thought was over and done with and bringing down bad guys–helping the DEA in the process.
In vogue right now in “the workplace” is a nasty little piece of work called the 360 review process; everyone in one’s sphere gets to “help” write your annual performance review. Roshomon at its worst. In some ways, that is what Kim and Carlos are doing and some folks on both sides are helping…and hurting. And if you think about some of the situations they have found it is folks on both sides that are stymieing them.
Need coffee–need to think some more…
Reacher has this effect on people becasue of his motivation to do the right thing. Doing what is right is nearly always misconstrued, primarily due to the fact that few people know all the details and nuances of any given situation. We live in a world of sound bites, misleading headlines, out-of-context quotes and people who have little time or patience to dig deep on any issue in order to know what’s really going on. This makes “the right thing” a moving target. Reacher is methodical, carefully considered and moves only when he’s sure he knows all the angles.
Oddly enough, Kim Otto has some of the same qualities. It’s interesting to watch her as she slowly comes to the realization that Reacher may not be as bad a guy as she’s been told.
Reacher is an icon as the grossly misunderstood hero that really doesn’t care that he’s misunderstood. Otto and Gaspar bring texture to that icon. They are people that want to do the right thing as well.