On June 21st 2005 Lee was signing
copies of his latest book in a small town outside of
Chicago when he started to get a niggling feeling
about the date - had he forgotten his wedding
anniversary, an important birthday? As he ran
through important dates in his mind he recollected
that it was exactly ten years since the bittersweet
day that he'd been fired from his previous job
(which had given him the impetus to turn his hand to
writing novels). He fell into a fit of nostalgia,
wondering what had happened to old colleagues, how
they were doing and what they looked like now? From
these thoughts came the idea for his 11th Reacher
novel, in which Reacher is reunited with members of
his team from ten years ago, people that he loved
fiercely and respected deeply, including Francis
Neagley who was previously seen in
When a series hits double digits there's usually little left to explore about a protagonist's character, which is why reuniting Reacher with his old team of ex-army investigators is such an inspired move. Firstly, the supremely confident Reacher, who has rarely felt a moment of doubt in his life as we know it, finds himself measuring his life choices as a drifter against those of his colleagues, who all enjoy various degrees of personal or professional success as measured by normal societal standards. As a result, for the first time, Reacher experiences that ubiquitous human emotion, self-doubt - albeit, not for very long! Secondly, Reacher has always acted alone, but is now seen functioning as the leader of a team in environments not of his choosing, revealing new and fascinating aspects to his character. And, of course, reuniting the remnants of the old team generates a feel-good camaraderie reminiscent of movies such as The Magnificent Seven, where one knows that the rusty skills of the individuals will meld into one effective whole just in time to give the bad guys a serious walloping!
As always, the body count is substantial and Reacher, who lives by his own moral code, dispenses justice in his inimitable fashion above and below the belt. The bad guys, lacking any redeeming qualities or indeed any character development beyond what is necessary for their role, are clearly beyond redemption and get their comeuppance in satisfying eye-for-eye fashion.
Child's writing style continues to get tighter and more powerful. Little time is wasted on peripheral chat, keeping the plot firmly moving forward. When a little extraneous detail is introduced you can be sure that it is important and that the mathematical, code-obsessed brain of Reacher will puzzle it over and, just in time, add the missing piece to the puzzle.
In short, Child offers supremely satisfying, intelligent action - a must read for existing fans and a great starting point for newcomers.
This review was originally published in June 2007, and has been updated for the March 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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