Straight Jack (Hunt for Reacher #16), by Diane Capri

Eight stars

A great fan of all things Jack Reacher, I was pleased to stumble upon Diane Capri’s series that explores a race to find this elusive nomad. Capri explores the chase to find Reacher through the eyes of two dedicated FBI agents and adds a curious case to help them bide their time. Special Agent Kim Otto has been on the hunt for Jack Reacher for the past number of months, but she’s been delayed by her current partner, who is nursing his injuries. Meanwhile, Reacher is said to have been spending time with a recent prison escapee who has taken to being a part of a gang robbing ATMs. Now, the hunt is on to find Reacher, locate the criminal, and stop the heists before things get any worse. Capri does well to stir up all the excitement in this wonderful instalment of the series.

A group of criminals have banded together to use their respective skills to target numerous ATMs across the country. Hoping to hit a big payday, each criminal must rely on the others, but one is still new and fairly green when it comes to this type of crime. While the crimes occur with moderate success, they leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the authorities.

All the while, Special Agent Kim Otto waits in a Nevada hospital, where her partner, William Burke, is recuperating after a clash with the elusive Jack Reacher. Once he is ready to go, Otto and Burke resume their hunt for Reacher, which is sure to take many odd turns. The first stop is in New Mexico, where Reacher is said to have been in touch with a recent prison escapee, who might hold the key to finding the nomadic traveller. However, things go south when a body is discovered in a hotel, leaving Otto feeling that the hunt has taken on a new importance.

Following the bank heists that have shocked various communities, Otto and Burke seek answers and hope to find a man responsible for a murder, but who could also point them towards their ultimate prize. With some assistance from Otto’s former partner, Carlos Gaspar, the pair try to synthesise all they know about Reacher. It is only when the FBI pair make it to Chicago that they are able to make significant headway, in the form of an old acquaintance from Reacher’s past military experience. Might this finally be the moment Jack Reacher meets his match with Special Agent Kim Otto? Capri offers up perhaps her best in the series to date with this novel, proving that Reacher and all those around him still have what it takes.

While I have long loved all that is Reacher, I found new joy and excitement when I discovered the work of Diane Capri. She offers up some great writing to parallel the creations of Lee Child, offering insightful stories that complement the original work. With a great narrative and some well-developed characters, Capri shows how this series can serve to work with the Reacher collection, or stand on its own. I cannot wait to see what else Capri does while keeping things a step behind the great Lee Child’s roadmap.

Special Agent Kim Otto remains in the protagonist’s seat throughout this series. She has had two primary partners, but always seems keen to run things in her own manner. She takes the lead in the investigation and makes it her own, trying to finally crack the chase open and finally bring Jack Reacher in for questioning. Always a step behind, this is Otto’s time to prove herself to others and make the difference in this game of cat and mouse.

Diane Capri has done well for herself, though this is the only of her series that I have tried reading to date. Her ability to keep things fresh as the characters race to stay close behind Reacher’s nomadic wanderings makes for great reading, no matter how much is known about the primary series. A great narrative keeps the reader on their toes, with many characters to entertain throughout the journey. Capri tries to find ties to Lee Child’s work, while keeping it from being too repetitive, which is sure to impress those who know the Reacher series well. There’s something for everyone, it would seem, with some great story arcs that have lasted for a handful of novels, as well as others that have yet to be resolved from the series debut. Bring on the next Hunt for Reacher novel. I cannot wait!

Kudos, Madam Capri, for a series that never seems to get stale. I am eager to see what;s next and how things will evolve.