Jack Reacher – former army cop, now wanderer – is back in his sixth adventure. Inadvertently assisting an elderly pair of itinerant musicians, he’s tracked down by M.E. Froelich, a member of the Vice President-elect’s protection detail, and former lover of Jack’s brother, Joe, killed six years earlier, two years after they broke up.
Froelich wants to hire Reacher to attempt an assassination of the VP, to test the integrity of his security detail, in response to a serious, potentially internal, assassination threat. When Reacher finds no fewer than five opportunities where he (or a co-conspirator) could have killed Brook Armstrong, Froelich is distressed, confirming Reacher’s suspicions that his assignment was to check the likelihood of a real threat being carried out. But is the threat aimed at the VP-elect, Froelich, or the Secret Service?
Reacher is the action equivalent of a fanfic Mary-Sue – he’s intelligent, insightful, disciplined, skilled, principled, strong, brave, patriotic, expert at manly arts like shooting and hunting, self-sufficient, unfettered by possessions and relationships, independently well enough off that he need only work when he wants to, and he gets to have sex with beautiful women who don’t expect him to call the next day. It’s a testament to Childs’ prowess that Reacher is also well rounded, relatable and interesting.
Also interesting was the explorations of the mindset of an assassin, and the precautions taken by the Secret Service – understandably, popular culture is referenced, with particular attention paid to presidential assassination films. As Childs, via Reacher, points out, there’s a big difference between killers who want to get away, and those who are happy to die once their mission’s accomplished.
This is the second Reacher novel I've read, and I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be moving my way up on the back list with some alacrity. As I wrote in my first Child review, it's not world changing but the Reacherverse is excellent escapist fun. Though not at complex as my stand out, all time favourite action/adventure author, Bagley, the protagonist is surprisingly relatable and the plots are fast paced and vastly entertaining. I'm usually quite adamant about reading a series in order (by publication date or, if they differ, chronology) but that appears to be unnecessary here - enough history is given for the character of Reacher to make sense, and it doesn't seem as though there are any recurring characters apart from our lone wolf. - Alex
Killing Floor; Die Trying; Tripwire; The Visitor; Echo Burning; Without Fail; Persuader;The Enemy; One Shot;The Hard Way; Bad Luck and Trouble; Nothing to Lose; Gone Tomorrow; 61 Hours; Worth Dying For