Friday, June 28, 2019


by Lee Child
Recommended Ages: 14+

In this third of 24 Jack Reacher novels, the ex-military modern-day knight errant faces a challenge to everything that defines him as a pop culture icon. First, he's the guy who never settles down anywhere, more than content to move on down the road every couple of days, carrying nothing but the clothes on his back (which, when they're filthy enough to stand up in, he'll throw away and put on a fresh outfit). Now, someone offers him a place to call his own, to settle down and be a homebody. Second, Mr. Love Them for a Few Days and Leave Them Without Looking Back gets a chance to start something lasting with the love of his life. And third, from the beginning of this book to the end – though he's the last person to realize it – the guy who has always been tougher and more dangerous than anyone who goes up against him is on a collision course with a bastard of epic proportions. The guy calls himself Hook Hobie, and he has an office in one of New York's Twin Towers (this was before you-know-what), and he has vast resources, a diabolically brilliant criminal mind, a complete lack of conscience and a set of short-term goals that include destroying Reacher and the woman he loves, even before they know he exists.

Reacher finds himself on the case after a private detective traces him to the Florida Keys and gets knifed to death for his trouble. Tracing the trace back to its source leads him to the funeral of his Army mentor and commanding officer, who died trying to give a pair of grieving Gold Star parents closure about a son who never came back from Vietnam. It also leads him to Jodie, the old soldier's daughter, who had a mutual attraction with Reacher 15 years ago and who now convinces him to finish what her father started. Unbeknownst to them, however, their line of inquiry has set off a trip wire of sorts, alerting Hobie that his edifice of lies and murder is about to tumble down. Hobie just hopes he can finish one last, deadly scheme before he has to run for it – and that means adding Reacher and Jodie to his list of victims.

For those joining the series late (among whom I count myself), this is a super-violent type of thriller that probably hews closer to the conventions of spy fiction than mystery. To be sure, Reacher is going to kill anyone who seriously threatens him without hesitation or remorse. However, he's also going to try to find stuff out – disturbing stuff dating back to the confusing and devastating era of the Vietnam war – stuff that will blow his mind as surely as he's going to bust some heads. Maybe what he finds out will give peace of mind to an elderly couple. Maybe it will put a spoke through the wheel of a crooked soldier of fortune. Maybe it will be on time to save Jodie and a few other relatively blameless people – including one Manhattan socialite who seriously qualifies as a hero in this book by herself. But until you find out whether he does, or what he does, you'll be in the grip of fear and excitement for page after page, inch after inch. And whatever happens, there's no way his itinerary (see the U.S.A., with or without a Chevrolet) will be unaltered at the end.

The next book in the sequence, which I'm already reading, is alternately titled either Running Blind or The Visitor. Lee Child, a British transplant to New York, most recently released the 23rd book in this series, Past Tense, and is scheduled to put out number 24, Blue Moon, in October 2019.

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