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: