Review of “The Enemy” by Lee Child

This book is not the latest in Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” series, but it merits a distinctive look, for reasons I’ll delineate below.


Lee Child books are crime/suspense/thrillers, some of which feature Jack Reacher, “hero, loner, soldier.” Short, clipped sentences describe plots that are not too gory, occasionally a bit obvious, but engaging enough to keep one burning the midnight oil to turn the pages.

The Enemy is an earlier book in the series involving Jack Reacher, who in this “episode” is a 29-year-old Military Police Office, a Major of the 110th Special Unit, newly transferred at the end of 1989 to Fort Bird, North Carolina.

Shortly after he arrives, a 2-star general is found dead in a nearby sleazy motel. Reacher picks an attractive woman MP, Lieutenant Summer, to help him solve the string of crimes that are linked to the murder.

This particular book is worth reading for a different reason. The real issue of interest is not the murders per se, but the situation the military was facing as the USSR was disintegrating. Since WWII, the resources and energy of the U.S. military focused on gearing up for a possible confrontation with the Soviet Union. When the Berlin Wall crumbled at the end of 1989, so did the results of an entire 40-some years of military preparation. Suddenly, the traditional enemy was gone, and a host of weaponry, infrastructure, strategies, agendas, and careers were on the brink – no longer of war, but of obsolescence.

The analysis of how much the military was shaped after the war by the perceived threat from the USSR is very thought-provoking. You will glean a lot of knowledge into the current problems faced by the U.S. by the descriptions of the different kinds of tanks in use and what they were good for; the kind of roads necessary to support them; and the costs and personnel involved.

The military and political information is fascinating, but there are some other gems of insight too – like this one when Jack and his brother Joe face the death of their mother:

“’Life,’ Joe said. ‘What a completely weird thing it is. A person lives sixty years, does all kinds of things, knows all kinds of things, feels all kinds of things, and then it’s over. Like it never happened at all.’

‘We’ll always remember her.’

‘No, we’ll remember parts of her. The parts she chose to share. The tip of the iceberg. The rest, only she knew about. Therefore the rest already doesn’t exist. As of now.’

We smoked another cigarette each and sat quiet. Then we walked back, slowly, side by side, a little burned out, at some kind of peace.”

Evaluation: Even if you don’t like crime/thriller/mysteries, this book contains some fascinating political analysis you aren’t apt to get in such an entertaining format. Thus I recommend this book over others of the Lee Child Jack Reacher series, primarily for the edification it provides about international relations.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Delacorte Press, 2004


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10 Responses to Review of “The Enemy” by Lee Child

  1. Doret says:

    I really enjoy the Lee Child books. Reachers such a loner it would be interesting to read one of these books with family members Thanks for the information. I’ll use it when customers ask “What’s this one about?”

  2. bermudaonion says:

    This sounds like a book that both my husband and I would enjoy.

  3. I’ve never read a Lee Child but have heard people raving about how good he is. I gather it’s a long series. Do you think you need to start to start at the beginning?

  4. Each book stands alone, but faced with a series, I like to read them in order. You can not only see the character grow, but the author.

  5. M.D. Austing says:

    I’ve been a fan of the Reacher series for some time now, despite some fallacies I’ve discovered as a former US Army MP NCO. For a Brit, Child has discovered “the American way” of doing things in this country. All in all, he’s a very good author-I usually find it tough to put his Reacher novels down for the night.

  6. Margot says:

    I like your suggestion of reading this to understand current events. Plus you get a good story to boot. It’s on my library list. I’m sure my husband will like reading this as well.

  7. Belle says:

    I don’t always like the Reacher novels (I seem to only like the ones where he’s not really going it alone, really enjoyed the last one out in paperback, – I must have this thing about loner heroes). This sounds like one I’d like.

  8. Mo says:

    I try to read them in order, but have read one or two of the 9 out of sequence and really only a character’s death or a relationship has been revealed before I got to it in another book…recommended that you read them in sequence but nothing to earth shattering if you can’t…just read them if you haven’t, I can’t put them down.

  9. Bob says:

    The ending got me on this one,I realize they don’t always wrap up neatly with a bow, but this one was too opened ended for me. Woul have liked a little six month or year later retrospective.

  10. melonman91 says:

    I was shocked and hated the ending.

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