Cleaning the Gold is a short novella co-authored by two of my favorite authors: Lee Child and Karin Slaughter. I’ve been waiting for this story ever since I’ve heard it is being written, and my wait panned out. At less than 100 pages, the book is short, indeed. However, it is engaging from the very first page.
Basically, the story is about Will Trent going after Jack Reacher based on a cold case, believing that he is a cop killer, Of course, when they finally meet, things take a very different turn. The readers of the Jack Reacher series will know that Reacher is not a cop killer. This is not a spoiler at all. It’s a simple deduction based on the over 20 Jack Reacher books Lee Child has written today. If you’ve read them all, you have a pretty good profile of our favorite hero.
As the two start working together with distrust in their eyes, they both get a big surprise when it turns out that there are stronger forces at play than they both realized or counted on.
My slight disappointment comes from the fact that the bigger story the two stumble upon gets to resolution. I don’t know whether it will be brought to closure in the next Will Trent or the next Jack Reacher book, but here’s hoping. Otherwise, it will stick in my mind like an annoying loose end that wants to be tied up.
There is not a lot of character development in the novella given the book’s size, but the main traits of the two people are there, and readers of both series will easily identify with the characters. If you’ve only read, say, the Jack Reacher series, you can still get a lot from the book. Only Will Trent will seem a bit strange to you, an unknown in the equation. Equally, if you’ve only read the Will Trent books, you might not know a lot about Jack Reacher and your suspicion of him might stay with you for a long time.
However, again, I won’t spoil in saying that both are good guys. After all, they’re the main characters in their respective long-term series. They simply can’t be bad, and I know that even before I’ve read the novella.
Since the Jack Reacher series is my all-time favorite (not to diss Will Trent because he is a great guy with a great storyline), if you haven’t read the series yet, I urge you to pick up and read the Jack Reacher books in order. It will be well worth it. Reacher is a strong and well-defined character that just grows from book to book. Of course, some people might have watched the Jack Reacher movies and not read the book. Here, in this novella, his enormous size is amply described and often mentioned. So if you didn’t take part in the uproar caused by Tom Cruise’s casting, I hope you see now what the hoopla was all about. Tom Cruise is definitely not a bear of a Jack Reacher. But I digress.
If you haven’t picked up the novella yet, give it a go. It’s short, can be read in less than a whole afternoon, and it’s cheap too.