Fall’s Best Thriller Characters Face-Off In A Battle Royal

My old city editor used to play the “Who’d Win In A Fight” game to loosen the mood in the newsroom after deadline.

It would go something like this: “Hey, Jane, who’d win in a fight, Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake?”

This isn’t a “bust a move on the dance floor” type of showdown. This is down and dirty fisticuffs, aka Fight Club, baby.

My all-time favorite thriller/mystery writers have books coming out this fall, so here’s my own prediction on how their serial characters would fare if they had to square off with each other.

Jack Reacher in Never Go Back by Lee Child. Coming out Sept. 3.

Straight Dope: Jack Reacher, former Army policeman now rambling man, has battled a money-ruthless killer with a shiny sickle for a hand, a hot female terrorist, and dirty Pentagon guys, to name a few. Reacher may be getting older, but he can still break necks with his gargantuan hands the size of frozen turkeys (Butterball? Jennie-O? Does it really matter?) Those insanely giant mitts can do some fatal damage.

Mickey Haller in The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly. Coming out December 2.

Straight Dope: Defense attorney Mickey Haller is a slick badass in the courtroom. Haller’s got street smarts and books smarts up the wazoo. And, he’s got half-brother Harry Bosch in his corner. But if it came down to a back alley brawl, could Haller hang with the likes of Reacher? Despite a slug in his gut, Haller was able to fire off one fatal shot and nail the creepy mother in The Lincoln Lawyer.

Vegas Odds: Reacher. He knows the fine art of the head butt.

Virgil Flowers in Storm Front by John Sandford. Coming out Oct. 8.

Straight Dope: Chicks dig that f’ing Virgil Flowers (abbreviated curse word inserted not to feign coolness—that’s how Sandford’s characters refer to this Minnesota cop). Flowers’ keen brain is often underestimated by his “aw chucks I’m just a preacher’s son from a small town” charm. But Flowers got the snot kicked out of him by a couple of townies in Mad River, and in Invisible Prey, he could only bring himself to shoot the preppy killer in the foot when she tried to escape.

Vegas Odds: Virgil, I think I love you, but I’ve got to go with Reacher.

Temperance Brennan in Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs. Coming out Aug. 27.

Straight Dope: Temperance Brennan is a brilliant yet steely-tough forensic anthropologist with a ginormous brain and a serious set of cojones. She’s taken down a serial killer and fought off cannibals who were feasting on the flesh of old people in rural North Carolina in Fatal Voyage (my advice, if you are a member of AARP, do not venture alone into the backwoods of North Carolina or you might wind up on the buffet table).

Vegas Odds: Brennan could be a serious contender for Reacher. Plus, she wields a scalpel.

And finally, drumroll please:

Danny Torrance, all grown up in Doctor Sleep by the one and only Stephen King. Coming out Sept. 24.

Straight Dope: I’m not sure if Doctor Sleep fits precisely in this genre lineup, but I’m so excited about this book, I don’t care. As a mere kid, Danny Torrance in The Shining beat whatever the bejeezelbub possessed the Overlook Hotel with just his mind! Remember the flesh ripping hedge lions? The naked corpse lady in room 217 who tried to choke Danny with her bloated, pickled cod-smelling fingers? And, how about Daddy Jack, with a legion of evil-crazy raging inside him after the Overlook sucked his tortured soul nearly dry like a drunk lapping up the final drop of a gin martini?

Vegas Odds: Adult Danny probably doesn’t have the brawn of Reacher, and it sounds like he is battling his own internal demons now. But he’s still got the SHINE.

I love each of these characters, but my vote’s got to go to Danny. Keep shining on, brother.

Who has your vote? Tell me here or reach me on Twitter

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