by Lee Child
Series: Jack Reacher, #19
Hardcover, 353 pg.
Delacorte Press, 2014
Read: November 10 – 11, 2014Someone took a pot-shot at the French president — and by pot-shot, I mean “almost impossible” sniper shot — it didn’t work, didn’t even break the “invisible armor” glass in front of him. But still, bad form, and people are expected to do something about that. Various and sundry intelligence agencies across the globe come up with a short list of snipers capable of making the shot. Disturbingly enough, most of them are employed by various and sundry nations across the world, but there’s a small handful that are just tracked (almost infallibly) by the same groups.
In this case, there were four unaccounted for at the time of the shooting. A British sniper, a Russian sniper, an American, and (I think) a French sniper (clearly doesn’t matter…minor spoiler). Each respective government gets someone to track down their potential suspect. Once upon a time, MP Jack Reacher arrested the American. So someone in the upper echelons of the Army reached out to Reacher in some cloak and dagger-y way to get him involved in tracking down the U. S. sniper.
Reacher has nothing better to do — no longer on his mission to meet Maj. Susan Turner (and wasn’t really given a choice, anyway) — and he owes the Brig. General. So “Sherlock Homeless,” as he’s been dubbed by the Army, heads off to Arkansas, Paris and London to track down his prey. The requisite purchases of replacement clothing, fights, and Reacher-ness ensues.
There was one particular highlight for me. There’s a London gangster, Little Joey — a giant of a man, makes look Reacher look like . . . well, like Tom Cruise standing next to the book’s version of Jack Reacher — Reacher’s initial internal description of him makes the whole book worth reading.
The most disturbing thing about this book is the constant, universal, assumption that governments will cover up, manipulate media and spy on everyone they choose to. In other novels — Gone Tomorrow jumps to mind as the best example — Reacher’s resented this kind of thing, complained about it. But this time, he uses it, takes it for granted — this could just be Reacher the pragmatist and we could get a return to form next time. But the way that everyone else — no matter their nationality or role in the investigation — assumes this, and doesn’t care about it, disturbed me. Mostly because I figure it’s fairly realistic.
The first few chapters are riddled with Reacher describing himself as “Predictable.” And, yeah, he is — both in his world and as a character in novels. He’s going to act a certain way, he’s going to shoot, punch, elbow and kick a certain amount of people. He will win the day, leave a few bodies in his wake, and at least charm a lady or two along the way (at his most chaste). Predictable. But satisfying. Scratching a particular itch for readers in a way only Lee Child can.
This seems to be a pretty divisive book amongst fans, for reasons I don’t particularly understand — on the whole the complaints I’ve seen about this one could be applied to 12-15 of the others, it’s just the way Child works. Maybe my expectations are different than others, but this one checked all my “Reacher” boxes and provided a few hours of entertainment.
Predictable can just be another word for Reliable.