In a scorching 11th (The Hard Way, 2006, etc.), Jack Reacher, that murderous moralist, seeks an eye for an eye for an eye for an eye.
Once there’d been eight of them—military cops Reacher had formed into an elite unit. Suddenly, four are dead, rendered so by person or persons unknown, and Reacher’s out for payback: “You don’t mess with the Special Investigators”—the unit’s mantra and rallying cry. True, the army was a thing of the long-ago past, but in Reacher’s iron philosophy loyalty is imperishable. “There are dead men walking,” he swears. “You don’t throw my friends out of helicopters and live to tell the tale.” But for vengeance to go forward certain questions must be answered. Why, for instance, are they being hunted so many years after they’ve stopped making enemies? A blood-soaked chess game ensues—feints, gambits, deadly traps. Reacher & Co.’s own hunt takes them from California to Las Vegas and back again. They make mistakes, correct them, edge closer to the answers they need in order to satisfy the code they continue to live by. In passing, Reacher rekindles an old love affair, sort of. At last, the outlines of a frightening conspiracy begin taking shape, suggesting that much more is at stake than any of them could have imagined at the outset. Inexorably, a point of no return approaches, and soon Reacher, who is nothing if not code-driven, will face a mind-bending choice—perhaps his most excruciating yet. On the one hand, the lives of friends: two. On the other, the lives of innocents: thousands. Which to pick?
Perhaps there are action-lit writers more recognizable than Child, but the bet is that none of them will turn in a tighter-plotted, richer-peopled, faster-paced page-turner this year.