No Plan B (Jack Reacher #27), by Lee Child and Andrew Child (Grant)

Eight stars

Jack Reacher, everyone’s favourite nomad, is back for another adventure, allowing Lee and Andrew Child to use their brilliant writing abilities one more. Reacher finds himself involved in an incident that spans across the US and gets him into trouble with a new collection of corrupt officials. The authors keep the action high and dry humour flowing in this novel, which has much more zip than some of their past collaborative efforts. Nice to see Reacher is back in fine form, with no signs of waning.

After arriving in a small Colorado town, Jack Reacher witnesses a young woman tossed in front of a bus, before the purported killer left with her purse. While others think they saw the woman leap, Reacher is sure about what he saw and tells the authorities as much. After a brief confrontation with a few men who might have been part of the killer’s group, he gets a glance inside the victim’s purse, where he learns a little more about her, including that she is far from her Mississippi home, where she works in a prison.

Painted as a target who might know too much, Reacher could find himself in a great deal of danger, but he refuses to stand down from trying to get to the root of the murder. Little does he know, but the killing is part of a larger conspiracy by a group who have even more nefarious plans that span across the country.

While Reacher and another Colorado local try to peel things back, which include a trip to Mississippi, a young boy has begun a trek across the country to flee a troubled home life. He finds himself involved in his own set of troubled circumstances and could use some help. When Reacher crosses paths with him, they find a common interest and appear to connect on some level. Still, both are on their respective missions, which could be intertwined, even if neither is quite aware of it yet. As Reacher is ready to put it all on the line, he must watch out for those who have him on their target list, prepped to leave another body if it keeps the silence. The Child brothers know how to keep Reacher at the top of his game and series fans can revel in another wonderful thriller.

I have followed the Jack Reacher series since its inception, which is why I was a tad leery when Lee Child invited his brother to collaborate. Things began a little shakily, but they appear to have righted themselves with this explosive thriller once more. Reacher is a nomad, but connects well with characters and the reader, given the chance. There is a lot to enjoy in this novel, offering series fans a glimpse at past greatness that just might be on the horizon once more. I’m eager. to see how the Child (Grant) brothers will handle Reacher in the future, as well as whether they foresee an end of his nomadic ways.

Much like its protagonist, the narrative style of this series has meandered all over the place, but captivates the reader on a repeated basis. The story keeps gaining momentum through the well-paced narrative that the authors develop so well. As always, there are many one-off characters, some of whom are able to connect with the reader in a short order and make for a more enjoyable experience. Wonderful plots help keep things sharp and on point throughout, something that Reacher appears to enjoy as he makes his way across the country. The authors have kept the series moving along, though anyone could easily pick up a book at any point in the series and be perfectly content. I am eager to see where things are headed and what location Reacher will discover next.

Kudos, Messrs. Child, on another enjoyable reading experience.

Better off Dead (Jack Reacher #26), by Lee Child and Andrew Child

Seven stars

The new collaborative effort of Lee and Andrew Child has taken the Jack Reacher series into some interesting domains. Long the work of Lee Child, Reacher has developed quite a following, perhaps most of all because one never knows where he will go or who is around to meet. While walking west, Reacher comes upon a woman in her Jeep, unconscious after striking a tree. It’s Michaela Fenton, whose past is impressive to Reacher, as well as her story. Fenton is looking for her brother, a man who may have locked horns with a terribly troublesome weapons dealer. Reacher agrees to help locate him, as long as it does not interfere with his nomadic march across the country, pacing himself as best he can. The Child brothers do a wonderful job yet again and keep the action flowing throughout this novel.

Jack Reacher is a man free from commitment, just the way he likes it. As he walks across the open desert, he comes across a woman who’s ploughed herself into the only tree for miles. Michaela Fenton is grateful to have Reacher’s help, but also wants him to hear about what’s she’s been doing. A former veteran, Fenton has joined the FBI and is looking for her twin brother, Michael. It would seem he’s got himself involved with a local weapons dealer, a ruthless man with little in the world he fears. Yet, this guy has never met Reacher, which is sure to be an adventure unto itself.

It would seem the ruthless Dendoncker has taken over the local town and turned it into his head of operations, which Reacher cannot let continue. There’s nothing like a confrontation to get Reacher’s blood boiling, so off he goes to investigate. Fuelled by a desire to know the whereabouts of Michael Fenton, Reacher heads to town and locks horns with a man few would dare cross, but that’s the charm Jack seems to have.

To snare Dendoncker, Reacher will have to play his cards right. However, with the knowledge that Michael could still be alive, Reacher has all the impetus he needs to move forward. As he pries things open a little more, Reacher discovers a deadly weapon that Dendoncker plans to use, which could have significant blowback. Reacher’s invested and ready to do all in his power to ensure Dendoncker is stopped before it’s too late. A brilliant addition to the Reacher collection, though there’s something different about this one, as the series continues to expand.

When a series has been around for so long, it risks getting stale or overly repetitive. Lee Child keeps that from happening by using Reacher’s nomadic nature to always provide new locales. The situations follow suit and are usually unique and yet on point. Working alongside his brother, Andrew (who has somehow decided to take the ‘Child’ surname, after years writing under ‘Gross’), Lee Child pens this new and equally intriguing novel that places his protagonist in new dangers. With a strong plot and some different writing styles, the series keeps moving along and impressing readers.

Jack Reacher is an anomaly from many of the protagonists I have met over the years. His lack of stability and need for a nomadic life help shape him, providing little character development. Reacher is just Reacher and no one can contain him or fit him into any specific type. He lives life in the moment and is always looking for danger to add to his daily goings-on. This was nothing different, as he finds ways to impress and draw blood in the same breath. Less a romantic entanglement than eagerness to hell a fellow soldier, Reacher does all he can to be a hero once again.

Since the series turned into a collaboration, there has been a shift, though some may see it as minute. While the narrative flows well, there was something off when comparing it to other novels. It was when I clued in to the first person direction of the novel, rather than the usual third person recounting, that things clicked. Reacher allowed the reader into his head, which has always been closed off. The plot worked well and those Reacher met on his adventure surely added to the story as well. I enjoyed how things evolved and can see the Child brothers work well as collaborators, even though I was thrown off by some of the writing. I will keep reading the series as long as Jack Reacher has somewhere to go and people to see. Which, based on the series to date, could be a long and detailed list!

Kudos, Messrs. Child, for another winner. I can only guess where things are headed, but the surprise is part of the allure.

The Sentinel (Jack Reacher #25), by Lee Child and Andrew Child (Grant)

Eight stars

Back for another Jack Reacher thriller, Lee Child brings a collaborator along to join the fun. Andrew Grant (Child, to keep the persona in line) does well to add his own flavouring to the piece, though some traditionalists have already begun to bemoan the change. I can see their point, but won’t be another stick in the mud for this one, which packed the punch I needed during a busy time of year!

As always, Jack Reacher finds himself in the middle of the scenario not entirely of his own making. Having decided that he ought to leave Nashville, Reacher convinces a young guy to give him a ride about eighty miles up the interstate to a sleepy Tennessee town. It seems quiet enough and is sure not to cause Reacher any issues. Little does Reacher know what awaits him.

Reacher meets Rusty Rutherford, who seems to be persona non grata amongst everyone in town. Having been the IT Manager for local services, Rutherford’s been made the scapegoat for the entire computer system being offline. It all relates to a ransomware attack, with hackers holding the only means to unlock all the computer’s data for a sizeable fee in a timely manner or risk having it erased. Rutherford tried to infiltrate the system and create an effective backup, but the ransomware has provisions for that and now millions will likely have to be spent to return things to normal. In an odd coincidence, Reacher rode into town with the very man, the insurance negotiator, who is tasked with trying to find a monetary solution to the mess.

While walking around town, Reacher notices that Rutherford is about to be targeted by a gang of apparent slick enforcers and comes to the man’s aid. This puts Reacher in a heap of trouble with local law enforcement, but his wily skills have him back on the street before long. Reacher learns a little more about Rutherford’s woes and how there’s a server that contains everything, including a a program Rutherford’s been working on that could have blocked the entire attack and a previously unknown backup that could be helpful.

Through a series of confidential conversations and secret double-crosses, Reacher is read in to a mission taking place that could have major impacts. It would seem the backup houses the name of a Russian spy who has been working nearby to infiltrate one of America’s most prized new digital systems, The Sentinel. A program that protects the integrity of US elections, the Sentinel could pose massive problems if it gets into the wrong hands, wreaking havoc on election registries and pushing the country into electoral chaos [and not of the faux claims of ‘rigged’ that disrupt the democratic transfer of power]!

As Reacher and Rutherford are joined by another key cog in the wheel, they must locate the errant server that has all the information and sell it before turning the perpetrator over to the authorities. However, as with anything that comes to the Russians, there’s always a catch and something that no one saw coming. If that were not enough, a local businessman has a plan all his own that could derail everything and leave a great deal of blood in his wake. Leave it to Reacher to find trouble with only his toothbrush in a back pocket!

Whenever I need something exciting and a little fun, I know I can find it in the hands of Lee Child and his Jack Reacher stories. While the series has made it to twenty-five books, I have never found them lose their momentum, though some will always be better than others. The introduction of the collaborating brothers here will, as I have already seen, rock the boat to the point that some become disheartened with the series. I liked the experiment, though found some small things that may not have been entirely to my liking, which I will tackle in a moment.

Jack Reacher remains a wonderful protagonist. His personality never changes and we don’t get any new backstory here, but he’s always a presence that cannot be missed. Reacher finds himself in a small town, minding his own business, when trouble seems to locate him like a lost puppy. He remains gritty and determined to help, something that Lee Child has fashioned him to be from the very start. However, I noticed that his admitted Luddite ways are inexplicably contrasted with an understanding of complex new Russian digital espionage. This is something that does not jive with a man who finds clamshell phones to be more technology than he can handle. Not that Reacher is a ‘basic’ man, but it seems above what series readers may have come to expect. Was he hiding it from years in the MPs and has somehow come to understand it through an odd osmosis?

The thing about Reacher novels is that there is usually an entirely new cast and crew of secondary characters, which makes things highly exciting and full of newness for the protagonist. This was no exception here, as a sleepy Tennessee town came to life, with personalities on all sides. Child (and Gross) do well to develop those townspeople, authorities, and foreign agents to keep the story flowing well and flavouring the narrative in ways that few would have come to expect. I enjoy it, as I learn a great deal from all the perspectives and must remain attentive to meet an entirely new set of fresh faces with each book. For the most part, they complement Reacher really well!

Being an active and involved reviewer, I try not to let the thoughts of others influence my reading, particularly when it comes to a series I have long enjoyed. That can sometimes be difficult, especially when I have a handful of people whose opinions matter great deal. However, I do enjoy going against the grain at times and speaking for myself, not allowing the current of opinion to push me in any one direction.

This book served the purpose that I needed it to, entertaining me fully and keeping me actively wanting to know what was going on. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and the narrative worked well to keep me guessing and wanting to know even more. I loved the characters and felt that Child and Gross (I cannot bring myself to call them both ‘Child’, as Andrew Gross has made a name for himself independently) worked well together to keep the essence of the Reacher flavour in most aspects of the story. Strong chapters that always keep things moving proved to be the thing I needed to keep me pushing through, even as things are busy for me outside of the reading world.

I can see how some would have an issue, going so far as to say ‘this is not the Jack Reacher I know’. However, I fear that many people have failed to comprehend that Reacher, like us all, has to progress at some point. He’s had twenty-five full length adventures (and some short story side trips as well) and has surely ‘matured’ over that time. His nomadic ways have surely been offset with an understanding of the new things going on in the world. That said, I did feel that there was quite a leap (though subtle at the same time) in Reacher’s knowledge and comprehension, which could lead some to say that this is not the galoot they know so well. Was it Child and Gross trying to stay with the times and delve into election rigging? Could it be Gross’ collaborative influence that steered the story in new directions? I’m not sure and really don’t think it is worth my time dissecting it fully. I have said my bit and, like Reacher, I am ready to move on to a new adventure. But, I’ll be back, toothbrush in my back pocket, eager to see what else the series has for me!

Kudos, Messrs. Child and Grant, for an entertaining piece. I am eager to see what’s next and whether more collaborations are in store for series fans. At least those who have not turned their backs on Reacher because things ‘are not the same’.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Prepper Jack (The Hunt for Reacher #12), by Diane Capri

Eight stars

Diane Capri is back with her latest novel in this series that has hints of the Lee Child popular collection. While Jack Reacher remains at large and one step ahead of the FBI, there are other issues that take precedence this time around. When Treasury Agent John Lawton is kidnapped as he leaves a lunch meeting with an accountant in New Mexico, worry races up the chain of command. FBI Special Agent Kim Otto is alerted to matters and sent down to investigate and assist, as there are some mean players in the vicinity. It’s suspected that drug cartel leader, Pinto Vigo, is behind the kidnapping, as Lawton is said to have been meeting with a mole within the cartel. Otto’s arrival in New Mexico is not entirely business related, as she and Lawton have a loose relationship that has been simmering for the past while. Is she being drawn to help because of the victim, or is this all business? Liaising with her former partner, Otto discovers that Lawton is likely being held amongst a commune of ‘preppers’, those who are ready for an end of days or the need to secede, should the situation arise. Learning a little more about the locals and Vigo’s way of life, Otto is joined by a few other federal agents, as they seek to rescue Lawton before capturing Pinto Vigo once and for all. Reacher is surely around, but Otto’s mission is focused elsewhere for the time being. A great addition to the series, which usually packs a punch. Recommended to those who like crime thrillers that keep on spinning, as well as the reader who has come to enjoy this series.

I eagerly await every time I see that Capri has been working to release a new Hunt for Reacher tale, as they tend to be well-crafted novels. This was no exception, though there was less of a Reacher feel and more one of action adventure in the plot. With Special Agent Kim Otto working alone, the tale took on more of a solitary spin, though the action did not dissipate throughout. Otto’s backstory is not covered herein, though the eleven previous novels should have done much of that. Rather, the reader is able to see what makes Otto leap up and take notice, both with her Lawton connection and ability to discover nuances in the larger mission. Never one to shy away from controversy, Otto pushes forward to help locate the federal agent, as well as bring down a drug cartel. Others appear throughout the book, complementing Otto or the larger plot effectively. Capri fashions these characters to keep the reader interested and pushes the narrative forward with their presence. The story itself was quite easy to digest, working in the Southwest part of the country. Offering up some insight into the world of ‘preppers’ and how they fit into the larger American fabric, Capri entertains and educates in equal measure. While not the sharpest of the series novels, this one fits nicely into the mix, leavin fans eager to see how and when Reacher might appear again. Some will bemoan that this is not ‘pure’ Reacher, though the series is done with the blessing (and encouragement) of Lee Child, who is in regular contact with Diane Capri. The two series complement one another nicely and I will keep reading as long as the stories remain crisp and worth my time.

Kudos, Madam Capri, for another great piece, even if dear old Jack was not a central topic.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Blue Moon (Jack Reacher #24), by Lee Child

Eight stars

Turning to the latest Jack Reacher thriller, I was very eager to get my hands on it to see what Lee Child had concocted for his most versatile protagonist. The story opens in a nondescript American town that is run equally by Ukrainian and Albanian organized crime. There is a clear demarcation of territory and neither side can really admit to liking the other. Jack Reacher is on his way to said town, aboard the local Greyhound bus. He eyes a man on board who has quite a bit of cash and is at risk of being a mugging victim. After they disembark, Reacher saves Aaron Shevick from just that fate and befriends him. Shevick is secretive, but eventually admits that the money is to pay off a loan that the Albanians have given him. When no one shows up, Reacher counsels his new friend to stay calm, though neither of them realize that the Ukrainians have taken over the loan business and are in an open war with the Albanian mob. When Reacher learns why the Shevicks are forced to receive such lucrative amounts of money, he takes it upon himself to settle things once and for all. However, while the Ukrainians and Albanians are off killing one another, he paints a shiny new target on himself and the Shevicks. With the help of a young lady who knows the organized crime goings-on and some military vets, Reacher engages in his own war to rid the town of these strangling influences. Wherever Reacher is around, the blood will flow and this may be a river rather than a trickle. Another winner from Lee Child in this stellar series that has not lost momentum. Recommended to all Jack Reacher fans, as well as those who love their thrillers told with unique plot lines.

While some seem to bemoan the length of the Reacher series, I have come to love all the twists and turns that Lee Child is able to use, particularly in the ‘modern’ novels. Just when I think that Reacher has done it all, we find a new situation for him to conquer. While there is little room for any backstory in this piece, Reacher remains the rugged and highly interesting man that many series fans have come to expect. Arriving as trouble is laid at his feet, Reacher never shies away, but also does not initially invite it. If there be a damsel in need of taking to bed, Reacher will somehow find a way to do it, but is sure to treat her with respect and bring her in on the plant to solve whatever issue seems to be taking place. Reacher uses his brain as much as brawn and lets no one intimidate him. Even here, with two crime families seeking his head on a post, he is ready to tackle whatever comes before him. Others are just as exciting to find within the narrative, from the down and out Shevicks to the ruthless mob bosses who ask questions after shanking those who cross them. Child has done well to ramp up the excitement and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as things come to pass. The story is strong and uses some tried and tested Reacher techniques of always moving ahead, while trying to get to know the surroundings. I could not help but notice the mix of seriousness and humour, which always makes these novels a little more enjoyable. I cannot wait to see what is to come, be it more short pieces or full novels, depending on how things turn out for dear Jack!

Kudos, Mr. Child, for another winner. Your fans will likely praise this as another success, which I wholeheartedly do.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Cleaning the Gold (Will Trent #8.5, Jack Reacher #23.6), by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child

Eight stars

In a short story the authors say was years in the making, Karin Slaughter and Lee Child have brought their ideas together to create a captivating tale that can be conquered in a single sitting. Will Trent has been working a cold case for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, tracking down a cop killer from the late 1990s. While he has followed some leads, the most promising points him to the United States Bullion Depository, where much of the country’s gold is held. Trent will not be able to traipse in and slap a pair of cuffs on the man he has in mind. He’ll have to go undercover, creating a strong alias that will pass muster with the Commanding Officer. Not entirely happy with the welcome he receives, Trent sweats it out and is given an assignment, to help catalogue the gold reserve. It is there that Trent meets the man he has been trying to locate, Jack Reacher. Before Trent can act, he’s led into a little situation that Reacher has been investigating, specifically corruption by two high-ranking Army officials overseeing the Depository. As Trent and Reacher work together, they reveal a scam at the highest level that could cause great harm if it is not neutralised. All that being said, Trent has not forgotten the mission that brought him to Kentucky, and the man whose guilt seems all but certain. Slaughter and Child work together to create this wonderful piece that blends both the writing styles and character quirks for which they are so well known. A great piece that can easily be completed with a cup or two of coffee and is recommended for those who enjoy short stories, as well as either of the protagonists.

I will be the first to admit that my reading time is not infinite, so I have never tackled any of Slaughter’s Will Trent novels. I am, however, a great fan of Lee Child and have devoured anything Jack Reacher. The story pits these two strong protagonists against one another—seemingly, if one is to believe the opening chapter—though they seem to work effectively together when duty calls. Trent comes from his policing background and is keen to arrest those who commit crimes, while Reacher continues to seek to find injustice and remedy it, while remaining elusive to many who want to know him better. Slaughter and Child do well in this piece to keep these two behemoths working effectively on the same side, before spinning things towards the end to discuss the elephant in the room, a murder in Georgia. The story flowed well and, for a short story, built up effectively before coming to a great conclusion. Series fans of either character will likely be impressed and it will have them wanting more. My attention is firmly focussed on what Jack Reacher will do, should he be able to slip out of this conundrum, though it is likely that his glowing personality will not create too many issues.

Kudos, Madam Slaughter and Mr. Child, for developing this wonderful piece. I’d read one of your collaborations again and hope you have some ideas to put Reacher and Trent on the same path again down the road.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

The Fourth Man (Jack Reacher #23.5), by Lee Child

Eight stars

Lee Child has been developing his Jack Reacher character for many years, putting the reader through a number of interesting adventures as this man of mystery becomes just a little better understood. In this piece, Reacher hopes to lose himself in the busyness of New York City, but is approached by someone out of the blue. They know his name and past military work, but there is more to the story. Reacher is wanted by the Australian Government, as his photo was found Down Under on an apparent hit list. Not wasting a moment and wanting to know what happened to the other men whose photos appeared in the same envelope, Reacher secures the needed documents and proceeds on a massive trip across the Pacific Ocean. While there, he runs into a handful of unsavoury men, one of whom offers up an interesting clue as to why he might be on a target list. Tied to some of his military work, Reacher’s past and present collide in this great short story that allows the reader (and series fans) to see a little more about this man who thrives on anonymity. What could someone in Australia want with Reacher and how will he be able to slip through the cracks while preventing any ongoing worries? Child is a master storyteller and does not disappoint in this piece that is easily completed over a warm or cold beverage.

While many authors of long and detailed series tend to lose the momentum of their protagonists after a time, Lee Child has been able to keep Jack Reacher from going stale, using a few techniques that series fans know well. With an ever-changing setting, the stories remain poignant and fresh, while also keeping Reacher intriguing. His constant engagement with new people helps the reader learn something unique each time, dazzling the reader that seeks a clearer picture of his life. There is some backstory to be revealed here, though I leave it to the reader to stumble upon it. The story was brief and resolved itself a little too swiftly, though this is surely the dilemma of a short story where Lee Child wants to push his point in a dozen pages or so. Still, it was interesting to see Reacher so far out of his usual elements in stories and able to hold onto that unique approach to the world in all his social interactions. A great addition to the series and it helped satisfy me until the next full-length novel this autumn.

Kudos, Mr. Child, for a great Reacher short. I am eager to see what other adventures you have in store for us fans in the months to come.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Past Tense (Jack Reacher #23), by Lee Child

Eight stars

Lee Child returns with another Reacher adventure that takes things down some untraversed pathways, particularly interesting for series fans. When Jack Reacher sets out for California, he has high hopes about this journey. However, early during the trek, he ends up having to get out along the road in New Hampshire, where a road sign rattles in the wind. The town of Laconia triggers a memory for Reacher, which he soon recollects is Stan Reacher’s place of birth, a father who taught him the steely ways of Marine life. Armed with a great deal of curiosity and all the time in the world, Reacher ventures towards the outskirts of Laconia. Liaising with some of the locals, Reacher begins piecing together some of his family history, at least until his father fled to join the Marines at the age of seventeen. However, there are some who want nothing more than to chase him out of town, possibly because of his name, but surely also due to the fact that Reacher is never one to hold is tongue…or a punch to the face. Meanwhile, in another part of town, two Canadians arrive in their beat-up vehicle and hope to only pass through, though a group of men who run the local motel may have other ideas. As they soon learn, Laconia, New Hampshire is more than just a dot on the map, but how do they play into the larger narrative? With Reacher discovering a great deal about his ancestors and being part of a larger dust-up, he could be the only hope for those looking to forget all about this community. What Reacher secrets have been buried for over seventy years and how will this opportune visit change the dynamic for the decades to come? Child does a wonderful job in creating a strong story and keeping the reader enthralled. Recommended to series fans who want to see yet another unique angle to this ever-evolving collection.

I know some people have read and reviewed this book, feeling that it is missing an essential piece of the Reacher puzzle. I, on the other hand, constantly marvel at how Lee Child has been able to take a nomadic protagonist and always find new ways to inject life and excitement into his life. Jack Reacher has seen it all in his years, but there has always been that missing gap in his past. Born abroad and having traveled as part of a Marine family, Jack Reacher never knew his grandparents and did not hear speak of them. His father, Stan, left as soon as he could get out and never came back. Now, Jack is able to peel back the mystery and learn a little more about young Stan, as well as the people he would call grandparents. As he delves a little deeper, Reacher finds more family members, who tell an interesting tale that will surely help shape this nomadic man as he continues his treks across America. The secondary story offers some interesting characters as well, two young twenty somethings who are unknowingly trapped in town by a group of young men. They become guinea pigs to a plan that they could not have foreseen. Child offers some interesting storylines related to these two, helping to shed the ‘Canadian passivity’ as soon as things get hellish. The story was quite well supported, using the typical ‘moseying Reacher’ before adding the element of personal connection for the man and helping the series fan to learn a great deal while also noticing Reacher’s typical rough-cut personality. There may be some wonderful nuggets on which Child can build in novels to come, which I hope continue. This is one series that I have found does not lose its momentum as it continues, as Child mixes ‘past’ and ‘present’ storylines in novels to better understand Reacher. While it may seem trivial, as a long-time audiobook listener of the series, I have come to discover that Child seems overly connected to the word ‘said’ when tying off dialogue. While it seems minor, to hear ‘he said…. she said….he said’ repeatedly during a dialogue makes for some mundane verbal tennis that can grate on the listener’s nerves after a time. As I said before, this seems to be a constant in books. On the note of audiobooks, I was so pleased to see Scott Brick at the helm and hope that he might be the new voice of Reacher, who suits it as well as Dick Hill did in novels past. What’s next for Lee Child and Jack Reacher? I suppose we will have to wait, but hopefully not too long.

Kudos, Mr. Child, for more wonderful story writing. I know you have many ideas brewing and I cannot wait to see what twists you will toss into your novels and short stories.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Ten Two Jack (The Hunt for Reacher #10), by Diane Capri

Seven stars

The hunt continues for Jack Reacher in this well-developed series by Diane Capri, paralleling some of the work done by her close friend, Lee Child. While still on the hunt for Reach, FBI Special Agent Kim Otto is home in Detroit, awaiting her next lead. She is approached by a DEA agent who has some information that might help her investigation. Reacher is said to have been associated with two women out West, one of whom is married to a somewhat nefarious businessman, likely dabbling in the drug trade. While Otto travels to St. Louis to garner some more information, she discovers that the women—twins—have been missing and the husband has hired an investigator to locate them. While trying to piece the puzzle together, Otto meets this investigator, who seems more intent on trying to scuttle her progress than anything else. Otto is left with more questions than answers and connects with her partner, Carlos Gaspar, down in Houston, where he has been working some angles on his own. Meanwhile, in the shadows a figure is trying to lock down his sizeable stash of opioids, ready to hit the streets. These two women might be the only thing standing in his way to a successful business venture, though the mysterious Jack Reacher is also a hurdle that must be neutralised. Working a few leads, Otto and Gaspar find themselves travelling a great deal to find Reacher, discovering his connection to one of the twins and how things might not be entirely as they seem. Capri works her magic again and ties this story in nicely to one of Lee Child’s Reacher novels. Those who enjoy the series will find something in this piece to whet their appetites. Recommended for those who enjoy both the Reacher novels and the Hunt for Reacher series.

Capri keeps things fast-paced, which allows the reader to stay focused on the endgame without getting too bogged down. I found myself enjoying this novel, though was at times a little overwhelmed with all the twists and turns that emerged from the subplots. Otto and Gaspar retain their protagonist roles, working the narrative effectively as they travel and seek to find Jack Reacher once and for all. Of course, they end up in the middle of a case that sees themselves diverting attention from the ultimate goal. Some of the other characters prove exciting and alluring as they push things in one direction or another, without hijacking the narrative. Touching on some of the poignant topics of the day, Capri gives the reader some insight into opioids and their trafficking around America, while also posing the question of how Reacher fits into the larger web. The story was highly entertaining and the chapters flowed very well, keeping me hooked throughout and hoping to learn a great deal more. I am eager to see where Capri takes things, though I am still finding it hard to fathom that this is all taking place in a compacted time period, while Reacher’s nomadic adventures seem paced out over years. Something to chew on for a bit, I suppose.

Kudos, Madam Capri, for another wonderful novel in the series. I have recommended you to many others and will continue to do so.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

The Christmas Scorpion: A Jack Reacher Short Story, by Lee Child

Eight stars

It’s almost time for the annual Jack Reacher novel, but that does not mean that Lee Child has been resting on his laurels. This short story that includes our rough and tumble protagonist is a perfect bridge for those who can never get enough—Tom Cruise-less—Jack Reacher. Winters for Reacher must have a single element, warm weather. That explains why he’s made his way to Southern California just in time for Christmas. However, Mother Nature has opted for something a little more troubling than coal this year, having dumped a ton of snow on the community he’s chosen. When Reacher finds a small restaurant in which to take cover he’s happy to see that there are two other couples there as well. Without power, it would seem as though he’ll have to do more than just wait things out. One of the ‘couples’ turns out to be members of the Royal Military Police, on a mission to protect their important dignitary. However, after sliding off the road, they lost him. What’s even worse, there is a killer on the loose—The Christmas Scorpion—whose name has come up in Internet chatter, seeking to strike sooner than later. After pulling some strings, Reacher not only has everyone rescued from the restaurant, but they are on a helicopter to do a little investigating. What they’ll find will only add more intrigue to an already jam-packed story. Recommended for those who love Reacher in all his permutations. The piece can be read as a standalone over a morning cup of coffee or tea, should the reader desire.

There’s nothing like a decent piece by Lee Child to excite those who enjoy short stories. Child does well to both pique the interest of the series fan and provide an entertaining out for anyone who needs a quick read. Reacher is his usual ambling self, complete with a disinterested nature in those around him. No backstory or character development here, just his usual loner self. However, Reacher never ceases to amaze with his abilities and will surely keep the reader on their toes with this quick read. The handful of secondary characters are as vehicles, getting the piece from A to B, though there could surely be some tie-ins with the upcoming novel, should Child choose to take things in that direction. The story is decent and, like many Reacher pieces, does not need a specific locale to make them work. The interested reader will see that the quick pace of the story and short dialogue is perfect and helps push things along with ease. I almost finished the entire piece without blinking, but it was entertaining at the same time, as Child as come to make a point of doing with most of his writing. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, though this was a wonderful teaser and reminder how much I thoroughly enjoy all that Jack Reacher brings to the stories in which he stars.

Kudos, Mr. Child, for another wonderful piece. I am always excited to see new Reacher material and this one did not disappoint.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher #22), by Lee Child

Eight stars

Lee Child is back with the twenty-second high-impact Jack Reacher novel that pulls on various aspects of current affairs, while addressing some large tears in the military fabric of the United States. While strolling through a Wisconsin town, Reacher comes across a petite West Point ring from the graduating class of 2005. With little on his plate and nothing to lose, Reacher begins asking questions, in hopes of returning the ring to its rightful owner. Reacher discovers that there is a fencing operation going on that traces back to South Dakota and so a mid-length bus ride takes Reacher to the heart of the matter. In South Dakota, Reacher makes quite the impression with the local law enforcement community, but learns that there are larger fish to fry in the vast western expanse. Like the dedicated Army MP he was, Reacher follows the trail to Wyoming, where he begins a search for Serena Rose Sanderson, the rightful owner of the ring. It is there that Reacher discovers that the fencing was only a cover for a much-more lucrative trade, one in which people will get rid of whatever they can to procure something even more valuable, especially to a wounded veteran with little hope of a constructive future. A former FBI agent temporarily clashes with Reacher, sent by Sanderson’s twin sister to locate her, and the case takes a definite turn for the worse. After the dust settles, the additional news gives Reacher a chance to make some fundamental suppositions, which bring light to the larger issue at hand. Finding Sanderson is only the first step in a larger operation that was unveiled when Reacher started feeding his curiosity. Now that he’s hip-deep, he’ll have to see it through, before moseying on to his next personal port of call! Child is back, adding another chronologically-sound novel to the series and keeping Reacher fans pleased with the outcome. Perfect for dedicated series fans and those who like a slightly off-kilter thriller.

I have come to love seeing the announcement that a new Jack Reacher novel is coming off the presses. While Lee Child has had to struggle with some less than stellar novels, he redeems himself here. Reacher is that ever-loved vagabond who finds something to pique his interest in the oddest of places. Child’s constant evolution of the Reacher character is what makes the reader more drawn to the protagonist, pulling on an eclectic past and adding a significant amount of his unique style. Reacher wants nothing more than to let the world lead him, but when he’s found something of interest, nothing can dissuade him from wanting to get to the root of it. The cast of secondary characters are always complementary to Reacher and the story’s twists.The ever-changing group allows novels to remain unique and unpredictable. Turning to the story itself, what seemed like a simple ring return became quite the issue below the surface. Child is able to pull pieces from the news and integrate them into his novels, addressing concerns or perspectives that might force the reader to think a little more. Reacher is usually open-minded, so there is less a soapbox aspect to things than a synthesising of sentiments. Of course, when the US Military plays a role, Reacher has a strong opinion and does not hold back. This is an interesting aspect of the character and Child’s story presentation. Military veterans play a strong theme in many Reacher novels, particularly how they are treated. While I am not well-versed in this area, I can respect much of what Child, through Reacher, has to say about them and how the central plot of this book draws notice to the issue that has been exacerbated by post-tour abandonment of soldiers in some regards. Forcing the reader to think and process makes for a wonderful novel and creates much discussion, which I always enjoy.

Kudos, Mr. Child, for this lovely addition to the series. Jack Reacher lives on, strong and dedicated to the final sentence.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: