Despite the fact that I’d written 2 paragraphs of this while reading it, I had a really hard time coming up with something to say here. This is about the most reliable series I know — how do you say something new and/or interesting about Old Faithful? Every 60-110 minutes it goes off, you can count on it. Every year or so, Lee Child let’s Jack Reacher go off. This is not a problem at all for the reader — far from it — but it’s a pain in the rear if you’re trying to write about it.
The greatest strength of this series is how different each novel/adventure is, totally unlike the rest — and yet each is quintessentially Reacher. There’s an unmistakable feel to reading about everyone’s favorite nomadic ex-MP.
This time out, Reacher’s still hitchhiking his way to Virginia — the same trip he started shortly after 61 Hours, and is picked up by two men and a woman on their way back from a corporate retreat (he assumes). He starts to notice a few things not quite right about the way they’re acting, but on page 33 he says, “Not my problem.” Which pretty much guarantees we’ll be spending the next 400 pages dealing with these people.
So what makes this one different from all the rest? It’s the twistiest, turniest Reacher in ages (if not ever). Like any good suspense writer, Child specializes in throwing a good curveball or five at you in the course of a novel — but (again, this is common with the best) usually you can look back at what’s come before and see where that plot twist came from. But there were a couple of turns in this one that took me totally by surprise. Not that Child cheated at all, or used a Deus ex machina, or the like. Just honest, out of the blue, surprises. I would’ve enjoyed the novel without those touches, but having them was a pleasant bonus.
I’m really looking forward to this next adventure — Reacher’s worked harder to get to Virginia this time than we’ve seen him before. He’s had a goal longer than we’re used to. I expect a humdinger of a read next time — and who knows?* Maybe it’ll be worth more than just one.
* who knew? Actually got to use the word “humdinger.”