A soldier is found dead in a sleazy motel bed. Jack Reacher is the officer on duty. The soldier turns out to be a two-star general. The situation is bad enough, then Reacher finds the general's wife.
This stomach-churning thriller turns back the clock to a younger Reacher, in dog-tags. A Reacher who still believes in the service. A Reacher who imposes army discipline. Even if only in his own pragmatic way.
Reviewed on 5th June 2011
This novel is set in 1990, when Jack Reacher was still in the Army, and this sets it apart from the previous books as his approach to the events is ultimately driven by his profession rather than his conscience. When a general is found dead, without his briefcase, Reacher is ordered not to investigate, but he can't let orders get in the way of justice.
Told in the first-person, the Reacher in this book is slightly more raw than the one I've come to know from Child's earlier novels. His attitude is pretty much the same, but he seems less cautious and even slightly more naive. Setting it in the past is a good move for Child, as it lets him explore more of Reacher's personality by showing aspects of it forming, and shows him in a very different environment.
Child takes the opportunity to play a little as well. Knowing the future, he drops in references which predict future events, and this helps boost some characters who seem incredibly insightful, and acts as a little comic relief in what is actually quite a dark storyline of death and deception.
As a mystery story, it works quite well. Through Reacher, and his assistant Lt. Summer, we're fed all the evidence and clues as the narrative progresses, and are able to piece things together as it goes - although I have to confess to missing some of the twists. I've really enjoyed this book and devoured it in three sittings - certainly one of if not the best in the series so far.