The best thing we discover here is the explanation for why Reacher left the Army. By the end of this adventure, he certainly...


From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 16

Ever wonder why Jack Reacher left the Military Police and became a one-man freelance vigilante squad? Child goes back 14 years to show how it all happened.

His commanding officer, Col. Leon Garber, clearly doesn’t want to send Maj. Reacher to Carter Crossing, Miss., any more than Reacher wants to go. But Fort Kelham is a particularly bad place for a murder because Capt. Reed Riley, who commands Bravo Company there, is the son of Sen. Carlton Riley, the chair of the Armed Services Committee. And the rape and murder of Janice May Chapman in a nearby bar’s parking lot rings so many alarms that Garber needs someone to work undercover, basically spying on the local cops, as Maj. Duncan Munro heads the official investigation. No sooner has Reacher hitched into Carter Crossing than he makes several surprising discoveries. Janice May Chapman wasn’t killed in that parking lot. She was only the latest in a series of Carter Crossing murders. The first two victims, equally beautiful but African-American, poorer and less headline-worthy, have been forgotten by everyone but their families. Sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux orders Reacher out of town but then relents far enough to take him into her confidence and her bed. Reacher, who excels as both a lover and a fighter, has his early moments as a hard-nosed sleuth and a junkyard dog (after he taunts an aggrieved local family who’ve sent only three hulking guys to beat him up, he’s faced with six next time around). But the meteor shower of potential enemies coming at Reacher from every side—Sheriff Deveraux, Maj. Munro, Senate Liaison Col. John James Frazer, Sen. Riley and his son, a militia calling itself the Tennessee Free Citizens and that family of hulking yahoos—work against the action-driven inevitability of Child at his best (Worth Dying For, 2010, etc.). And he’s not as good as his competitors at devising the riddle-wrapped-in-a-mystery-inside-an-enigma structure he uses instead.

The best thing we discover here is the explanation for why Reacher left the Army. By the end of this adventure, he certainly has his reasons.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-34432-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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