This isn’t a slight against Cruise (underrated; he’s too small, yes, but he nails the attitude) or Ritchson (so physically perfect for the role that one imagines he was grown in a lab for the part). I like ’em both. But after having Hill’s deep voice in my ears for dozens of hours, letting him guide me through a labyrinth of dark conspiracies and busted kneecaps, it’s clear who owns the role. Even Child himself has credited Dick Hill’s audiobook performances for creating legions of additional Jack Reacher fans. Hell, I’d go as far as to say a Jack Reacher book read by Dick Hill is the ideal Jack Reacher experience — more than reading the novels, more than seeing the films, and more than binge-watching the TV series.
Dick Hill isn’t the only reader to take on the Jack Reacher series (the more recent books have been narrated by Scott Brick and a few of the early novels are read by Johnathan McClain), but his command of character and pacing is unreal. Listening to Dick Hill made me wonder … is one of my favorite actors of all time an audiobook reader? His “Reacher voice,” a Clint Eastwood-tinged growl that fits the laconic character to a T, is burned into my brain. It’s great stuff during all of the Reacher books, but it’s especially great stuff during the handful of novels written in the first person, where you truly feel like you’re having the events relayed to you by Reacher himself. (The fact that Hill works overtime to give every speaking character a unique voice showcases an astonishing range, but I could listen to his Reacher voice go through the phone book.)
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