Reviewed: September 6, 2005
By: Lee Child
Publisher: Dell
496 pages, $11.99

p>We meet Jack Reacher 11 days after the beginning of his latest adventure, not that he would call it that. Jack got involved in this case because he discovered that there was some unfinished work from a former life that needed finishing in the worst way. Terminated, you might say. We don’t find out just why this has to happen until nearly halfway through the book. It’s an intriguing addition to a story that had already begin a bang and a big con.

Jack used to be in the US military and Quinn, the fellow whose existence allowed an off-book unit of the Drug Enforcement Administration to persuade Jack to play with them, had killed a colleague. Jack had been a year away from a promotion to major, working in the military police division, when Quinn crossed his path.

He had thought that part of his life to be over, along with any official ties to the government, but seeing Quinn made it easy for him to change his mind.

Reacher is a solitary man, capable, hard hitting, intelligent, and determined. He’s probably not a nice man, but we see the story through his eyes and that makes it harder to judge. He’s one of these knights of mean streets types, who would probably get along well with the likes of Spenser. In fact, I found the book read a bit like a cross between early Parker novels and early Alistair Maclean.

According to the notes in the back, this is the seventh Reacher novel, and apparently this one provided us with some background information about his pre-freelance days that we didn’t have before.

Child, an ex-Brit and former television director, writes a fast moving story. While we backtrack some two weeks before the opening pages, and do a bit of wandering around in Reacher’s memories, the present day action takes less than a week from start to finish. The body count for that time frame is impressive, as are the fight scenes, and the villains he tangles with are so nasty that you really don’t feel that anything he does to them is excessive.

This one came to me as part of a two-for-one offer from one of the e-book sellers that I patronize. It was good company for a day or two during last summer’s travels in the east. I’m looking forward to reading the other one. It’s the next in the series, but is supposed to take place years before the other seven.