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Random House
"Jack Reacher's Rules" is by Lee Child.

"JACK REACHER'S RULES," by Lee Child, Delcorte Press, $19, 151 pages (f)

It's difficult to decide if the pocket-size "Jack Reacher's Rules" belongs in the fiction category or the nonfiction category.

After all, the book's main character, Reacher, is fictionalized, right?

But very much like Sherlock Holmes, who has a house outfitted to include the smallest details of his adventures, Reacher is real in the minds of his readers.

So the compilation of rules that guides his behavior and literally saves him from certain death on countless occasions feels like a textbook of sorts.

Besides being dead on, it's also dead-pan funny.

The rules range from those designed for specific harrowing situations, "If you are climbing up toward a trapdoor into an uncertain situation, catapult yourself up the last 18 feet as fast as you can" and "Remember that khaki socks will give you away if you're going undercover," to the kitchen basics "All good scam artists stick as close to the truth as possible," and "The less I relax, the luckier I get."

Those who've read author Lee Child's books will recognize many of the rules as Reacher relies on an internal compass and a toothbrush in his pocket to stay alive, solve the mysteries he comes across, and live a life uncomplicated by bills, bosses or task lists.

Reacher advises, "Try not to get trapped in close, tight spaces" and lists some handy places to look for a hidden key if you're interested in breaking into someplace or something locked: kettle, shoe, hollowed-out book, under the mattress or inside the toilet tank (duh?).

He suggests some of the ways liars give themselves away: Liars avoid eye contact and touch or scratch their noses or ears. A glance to the left generally means they're remembering things; to the right, they're making stuff up.

It's fun to just keep this book around and skim through for a laugh. It's also a good read from start to finish, especially with the inclusion of "Things You'll Never Hear Reacher Say" such as, "My wife doesn't understand me" to "Sorry, I've forgotten my watch" and "My knees are trembling and my hands are shaking."

Those who have followed Reacher's character know he has a clock in his head that is as reliable as any expensive Rolex and is always with him.

He's a "one-woman-at-a-time" man and no one-woman man forever.

He never panics or cowers. He simply solves his problems.

This is a great book for keeping handy but it probably won't provide the spiritual thought you need for a devotional moment.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com