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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Enemy

Reviewed: January 8, 2006
By: Lee Child
Publisher: Dell Books
496 pages, $11.99

Jack Reacher was the Military Police duty officer at Fort Bird the night that General Kramer died in a pay by the hour fleabag motel a hour way from the base. The general having a good time with someone who was not his wife when the event occurred. That was just the beginning of a series of infidelities that made this one of the messiest cases Reacher had ever been handed.

Reacher was new at Bird, recently transferred in from active duty in Panama for reasons which made no sense to him or to every other top non-com who had recently received transfer papers.

The call came in right around midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1989, when Reacher had nothing better to do than to sit in his new office and watch the army issue wallclock’s minute hand jump forward six degrees every sixty seconds. Nobody thought to tell Jack that the dead man was a two star general.

In Berlin the Wall was coming down and the US government was about to declare that the Cold War had been won. President Bush’s vaunted New World Order hadn’t yet been retooled to suit the business plans of several large US investment firms with interests in the Middle East, so it seemed that things were going to be peaceful for a while.

Not for Jack, though. Sent to the scene of Kramer’s death he soon realizes that there are a number of things wrong with the picture as he sees it, notably the absence of the general’s briefcase, which he was on the way to a military summit meeting when he made this little detour in his itinerary.

Things get more complicated. A new CO at the base calls Jack off the case and wants everything hushed up quickly. The general’s wife is killed. Several highly trained special ops soldiers get killed, and it’s set up to look like Reacher might have done the deed.

Reacher finds himself trying to solve the crime and the larger mystery behind it while protecting himself from baseless accusations and dealing with the impending death of his mother in Paris.

This is the eighth Reacher mystery, but chronologically the first so far, since it delves way back into his past and certainly suggests a lot of the reasons why he ended up leaving the US military and striking out as a freelancer.

The book’s title suggests a lot about the plot once you realize the possible source of the words. Lee Child is a Brit by birth, but has lived a long time in the USA, so he is probably aware of the classic Pogo cartoon poster in which the characters in the Okefenokee Swamp conclude that “We have met the Enemy and he is us.”

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