When I was in university I had a large poster of The Nighthawks by Edward Hopper on my wall. I had no idea it was famous (philistine engineering student that I was). I picked it because it was the largest poster in the store that I actually liked, and I had white cinderblock walls to cover. Little did I know I would come across spoofs and references to it everywhere for the rest of my life: The Simpsons and That 70s Show, to name a couple.
And the latest: The Picture of the Lonely Diner, a short story by Lee Child. The name should have been a clue, but I can’t say I associate Jack Reacher with art references. This is the first Jack Reacher story I’ve read in a while—I experienced Reacher fatigue after reading five or six of the novels. Maybe Reacher is more cultured than I realised. The short story was also surprising in that Reacher neither gets the shit kicked out of him, nor kicks the shit out of anyone else. Then again, the whole story takes place in the span of five to ten minutes. I imagine he finds some other trouble to get into before long.
Despite my past Reacher fatigue, this small dose was enjoyable. Maybe I’ll pick up another novel one of these days. Although, the first Reacher novel I read, The Enemy, remains my favorite and I don’t expect it will be dethroned. It’s a prequel to the other Jack Reacher stories that takes place while he’s still in the military, and intends to be for life. Of course, any avid Lee Child readers know how that turned out.
If you’re a Lee Child/Jack Reacher fan, or a fan of crime fiction in general, I found The Picture of the Lonely Diner in the anthology Manhattan Mayhem (2015). It includes stories by many crime and mystery heavyweights including Jeffery Deaver, Nancy Pickard, and Mary Higgins Clark—who also edited the anthology. I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s promising so far.