|© ITW Publications|
If ever I have read about the all-too-real fictional world of bodyguards in about 500 words, it is in The Bodyguard, a short story by Lee Child. In those initial paragraphs, the British author succinctly describes the life and work of a highly-trained bodyguard who quits the military to protect the rich, the famous and the powerful.
Written in the crisp and gripping style of his Jack Reacher novels, Child gives us a nameless bodyguard who could either be real or a phony, and the stakes that go with the unpredictable nature of his job; mostly looking out for automatic targets, the wealthy and the politically connected, and guarding them from kidnapping for ransom. Especially in South America where such abduction is a national sport.
A year after he quits his friend's agency and starts his own business, our bodyguard, "a medium-sized man, lean, fast, full of stamina," is hired by Anna, a 22-year-old rich and beautiful woman whose father is a Brazilian politician and businessman and her mother a television star. But the contract with Anna and a perilous trip to Brazil don't go according to plan.
The Bodyguard is well-written and entertaining, the incredulous turn of events towards the end adding to the pleasure and making it well worth reading. The 3,110-word story is part of First Thrills (2010), an anthology of thrilling stories—of murder, mystery and mayhem—by various authors, and edited by Lee Child himself.