Excerpt from Without Fail by Lee Child, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Without Fail

A Jack Reacher Novel

By Lee Child

Without Fail
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: May 2002,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2003,
    416 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Maybe you should, "Stuyvesant said. "This could hurt you. There were six guys who wanted your job. So if you do this and it leaks, then you've got real problems. You've got half a dozen vultures muttering told you so the whole rest of your career. Because you started second-guessing your own abilities."

"Thing like this, I need to second-guess myself. I think."

"You think?"

"No, I know. I don't see an alternative."

Stuyvesant said nothing.

"I'm not happy about it," Froelich said. "Believe me. But I think it's got to be done. And that's my judgment call."

The office went quiet. Stuyvesant said nothing.

"So will you authorize it?" Froelich asked.

Stuyvesant shrugged. "You shouldn't be asking. You should have just gone ahead and done it regardless."

"Not my way," Froelich said.

"So don 't tell anybody else. And don't put anything on paper."

"I wouldn't anyway. It would compromise effectiveness."

Stuyvesant nodded vaguely. Then, like the good bureaucrat he had become, he arrived at the most important question of all.

"How much would this person cost?" he asked.

"Not much," Froelich said. "Maybe nothing at all. Maybe expenses only.

We've got some history together. Theoretically. Of a sort."

"This could stall your career. No more promotions."

"The alternative would finish my career."

"You were my choice," Stuyvesant said. "I picked you. Therefore anything that damages you damages me, too."

"I understand that, sir."

"So take a deep breath and count to ten. Then tell me that it 's really necessary."

Froelich nodded, and took a breath and kept quiet, ten or eleven seconds.

"It's really necessary," she said.

Stuyvesant picked up his file.

"OK, do it," he said.

She started immediately after the strategy meeting, suddenly aware that doing it was the hard part. Asking for permission had seemed like such a hurdle that she had characterized it in her mind as the most difficult stage of the whole project. But now that felt like nothing at all compared with actually hunting down her target. All she had was a last name and a sketchy biography that might or might not have been accurate and up to date eight years ago. If she even remembered the details correctly. They had been mentioned casually, playfully, late one night, by her lover, part of some drowsy pillow talk. She couldn't even be sure she had been paying full attention. So she decided not to rely on the details. She would rely solely on the name itself.

She wrote it in large capital letters at the top of a sheet of yellow paper. It brought back a lot of memories. Some bad, most good. She stared at it for a long moment, and then she crossed it out and wrote UNSUB instead. That would help her concentration, because it made the whole thing impersonal.

It put her mind in a groove, took her right back to basic training. An unknown subject was somebody to be identified and located. That was all, nothing more and nothing less.

Her main operational advantage was computer power. She had more access to more databases than the average citizen gets. UNSUB was military, she knew that for sure, so she went to the National Personnel Records Center 's database. It was compiled in St. Louis, Missouri, and listed literally every man or woman who had served in a U.S. military uniform, anywhere, ever. She typed in the last name and waited and the inquiry software came back with just three short responses. One she eliminated immediately, by given name. I know for sure it 's not him, don't I? Another she eliminated by date of birth. A whole generation too old. So the third had to be UNSUB .No other possibility. She stared at the full name for a second and copied the date of birth and the Social Security number onto her yellow paper. Then she hit the icon for details and entered her password. The screen redrew and came up with an abbreviated career summary.

From Without Fail by Lee Child, Copyright © May 2002, The Putnam Publishing Group, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois
  2.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin

All Discussions

Who Said...

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.