This is the 13th in the Jack Reacher thriller series, which feature a superhero/killing machine who, fortunately, works on the side of the good guys, and isn’t bothered by any ethical scruples when “the ends justify the means.”
Jack Reacher is a retired U.S. Army military policeman from the elite 110th investigative unit, in which he served for thirteen years. He won the Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Soldier’s Medal, but couldn’t hack the discipline and hierarchy. Now he travels around with no permanent home or relationships, and no luggage except a fold-up toothbrush. He prides himself in his technological ignorance and lack of encumbrances. Occasionally he showers by bribing hotel maids to use rooms before they are cleaned. He buys cheap clothes and throws them away when he is done wearing them. We don’t know where he sleeps or how he grooms himself (if indeed he ever does). Nevertheless, he seems to have no trouble in getting women to have sex with him, and although he is now in his forties, he can take on any number of opponents of any skill level and vanquish them all.
In this book, Reacher witnesses the suicide of a woman on a subway train, and decides that it is his job to get to the bottom of who she was and why she did it. It turns out to be a very complicated matter of national security. What a remarkable coincidence that Jack Reacher was on the scene! In the end, it is Reacher alone against a terrorist cell of 22 people, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling you which side wins! (LOL)
Discussion: You may ask, if Jack Reacher is so hot to eliminate bad people, why didn’t he just stay with the military police? The answer is authority: he doesn’t want to answer to it. And responsibility and permanence are anathema to him also. (In one humorous passage, he muses that, when he was twenty-two, “a four-day relationship would have seemed long to me. Practically like engagement, or marriage.” Older now, his tolerance level seems even lower!)
All of these aspects of Reacher can be annoying, but it is his “superhuman” abilities that put him towards the cartoon end of the character spectrum. On the other hand, if Child suggested that Reacher had Asperger’s Syndrome, Jack’s odd combination of quantitative skills and social aversion might seem more plausible.
Evaluation: After a number of Jack Reacher books, I just want to grab Jack by the shirt and say “Get a job! Start a blog or something! Use deodorant!” But I seem to be the only woman who wants to grab his shirt for any other reason than to pull it off and jump in the sack with him…
Published by Delacorte Press, a trademark of Random House, Inc., 2009