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A pretty good and entertaining book by Child but not among his best
am 27. Juni 2006
December 29th, 1990, elite military cop Jack Reacher all of a sudden is transferred from Panama to Fort Briggs, North Carolina/USA. And on the first day of 1990 his skills as a Military Police investigator are already needed. A General dies of a heart attack in a cheap motel near by. First problem: why did the General make a several hundred mile detour on his way only to spend his night in the hotel? Second problem is that he wears a condom. So who was with him and why is his suitcase missing? Third big problem is that his wife is killed only two hours later and more than hundred miles away. All only a strange coincidence? Unfortunately for Reacher this is only the beginning. More people are transferred all of a sudden, the body count starts to rise and Reacher finds himself being framed for the whole mess. But why? Is it all a big cover up? If it is - what for? Reacher realizes that the clock is ticking and without a real clue he has only little time left to find out what the hell is going on...
This time Lee Child steps back in time to introduce a younger Jack Reacher - one that is still in the army. Therefore the hero is not the loner or drifter already but right where he belongs and where he originally learned and used his skills. As in the previous novel "Persuader" the author uses the I-narrator style which limits the reader's view but reveals a lot of Reacher's thoughts etc. The interesting effect is that the reader knows only as much as the main character.
Since this story takes place in 1990 one also learns about Reacher's brother and his mother. Those parts are interesting to get to know the Reacher character but do not really contribute anything to the story. It could have been shortened or left out.
To get closer to the truth Reacher has to do real cop work - several steps leading to dead ends as in real life - and he even uses some real CSI tricks.
While reading the book Reacher and the reader always keep asking themselves the same question: WHY! Why do they want to cover it up and why do they want Reacher as the scapegoat? And what the hell is going on?!
Throughout this question the tension in the book is constantly rising which stopped me from putting the book aside. As much as Reacher you just need to find out who is behind it all, how did he or they managed to do it and again WHY?!
Unfortunately there is one issue that needs to be addressed (again): In "Killing Floor" Reacher shot people in the back. Was that bad? Not really because they were armed, dangerous and would have done the same to him. BUT as in "Persuader" Reacher again commits first degree murder in the end. He shoots a man who is not physically dangerous, is not even armed and is no threat to anybody at all at that stage. It's not even a man who "deserved to be killed".
What's wrong with Lee Child? Not even "Dirty Harry" would have done that and therefore Reacher becomes less and less the "knight in shining amour" like he used to be. There sure would have been a lot of more elegant ways to deal with that particular person than just plain killing him. Looks as if the author ran out of ideas in the end and just used the simplest solution. I sure did not like it because it was really poor!
This is not a book you cannot afford to miss but also not one that will bore you. The book can be read very fluently. There is no real reason to stop. It finishes naturally and quickly. There is even some humor in Reacher's dialogues which makes the book enjoyable and lifts a bit of the rising tension.
The solution is not a real surprise in the end but still a pretty interesting view on the (military) changes that started in 1990.
On the other hand there are better books to choose from if you have not read any Lee Child book so far. "Without Fail", "The Visitor" or especially Child's first book "Killing Floor" can be recommended.