Reviewed: February 21, 2009
By: Lee Child
432 pages, $10.99
Tripwire is an early entry in the Jack Reacher series of thrillers, number
three in the thirteen book series, I believe. Author Lee Child hasn’t
been meticulous about his time lines and at least one of the later books in
the series takes place before the first book that came out, but this one is
firmly set in the time after Reacher quit his army career as a military policeman.
When we meet him this time Reacher is lying low in Key West, having taken some
odd jobs (digging swimming pools and bouncing bad patrons in a strip joint)
to pad out his diminishing bank account. He’s basically trying to avoid
any situations that might tie him down to anything. He even buys new clothes
rather than taking his dirty ones to a laundry because having a ticket would
obligate him to return for them. Seems like he’s in total rebellion to
structure after his army life.
When a fairly obvious private investigator starts asking after him, Reacher
denies his own identity, but when the hapless retired cop ends up dead on the
street at the hands of two other guys who have been asking around about him,
Reacher feels responsible and decides he has to solve the guy’s murder.
This leads him to New York, to the home of a woman who turns out to be the grown-up
daughter of his former, and recently deceased, commanding officer. It turns
out it was Leon Garber who had sent the PI after him, and now it appears that
Jodie Jacob, his daughter, is in peril because of it.
Garber had been trying to help an old couple who had been swindled in a Viet
Nam Vet Missing in Action scam, but that case accidentally ties into another
one involving a very nasty loan shark named “Hook” Hobie, who has
long since developed a plan for dealing with anyone who gets any where near
uncovering his real identity.
Reacher and Jodie, who are somewhat distracted by the consummation of a 15 year
old unrequited mutual attaction, find themselves dodging bullets and kidnapping
attempts and almost trapped in Hobie’s web.
There’s a sidebar plot involving a failing businessman and his wife just
to show us how nasty Hobie can be.
The final confrontation in this book is one of the most grueling scenes I have
read in some time. Even though you know it’s going to work out, it’s
really hard to see how.