Thursday, November 4, 2021

Gone Tomorrow

Gone Tomorrow
by Lee Child
Recommended Ages: 15+

In New York City, Jack Reacher is sharing a 2 a.m. subway car with five seemingly random strangers when he spots all the signs, based on a secret Israeli checklist, of a suicide bomber. He gets up to talk to the woman in a desperate hope to save his life. But when she pulls her hand out of the bag at her side, it's holding not a bomb trigger but a gun ... which she then used to kill herself. Reacher, on his way from nowhere in particular to ditto, doesn't plan to stick around after being questioned by the city cops, then some federal agents, then some rather sketchy private eyes. But the situation keeps growing more and more suspicious.

Everyone seems to be after the top-secret contents of a flash drive that the dead woman was supposedly carrying, but that wasn't found on her body. Everyone seems to think Reacher is involved somehow, even though (as it eventually turns out) he was the only really random passenger on that train. The brother of the victim doesn't seem particularly worried about the fact that her son, all the way over on the West Coast, is also missing. A beautiful foreign woman and her mother are somehow involved, but Reacher knows every word they've told him is a lie. And then there's the up and coming Congressman, now making a run for the Senate, who seems desperate to keep some secret buried. Fishiness on every side, and by the time Reacher uses his skills as a former military policeman to figure out what's really going on, everyone from the cops to the feds is after him.

It may seem like too subtle a problem to solve with a blunt instrument like Reacher, but at the bottom of it are some pretty vicious people. Reacher moves up and down the eastern seabord with a complete lack of tech savvy, delicate manners and roots to tie him down, and somehow that seems to be what it takes to stop a terrorist cell from getting what they want. And finally, crucially, he beards the lioness in her den – which is to say, he knowingly walks into a deathtrap, faces the perpetrators of a literally stomach-turning evil, and ... well it's hardly a spoiler to say that he proves to be the bigger S.O.B., since we're talking about the 13th of now 26 Jack Reacher novels.

This review is based on an audiobook read by Dick Hill. It went by pretty fast, mostly in one round trip to what we in the state where I live call the big city. But it packed a punch. I'm not kidding about that stomach-turning part. I almost couldn't listen to that, and a Reacher book is nothing if it's not violent. Maybe the most disturbing thing about it is the seductive, feminine vibe that goes with it. On the other hand, the book also offers (right up front) that really interesting insight into spotting a suicide bomber, as well as one of the biggest belly laughs a book has given me this year – a scene I won't spoil at this point, but maybe you'll laugh at it, too. The cleverness of the joke, the intelligence of the intrigue, the sense of reality, the cheerful violence, and the sickening evil spritzed with a scent of eroticism are all of a piece with the unreconstructed manliness of Reacher and the fantasy he represents – of an indestructible outsider, drifting around the country with nothing to tie him down. And so, even given the negligible literary value of this book and its series, they maintain a strange appeal.

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