In this 20th installment of Child’s action series (Personal, 2014, etc.), Jack Reacher ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time—perfectly positioning him to unravel a missing person mystery and save the day.
Living on the road with his toothbrush in his pocket, ex-military policeman/all-around-hero Reacher is wending his way across the country by train when he alights at Mother’s Rest on a whim, curious about the origin of the name. Instead of the expected historical marker, he finds a bunch of unfriendly townspeople and ex-FBI agent/PI Michelle Chang, who's searching for a missing colleague. Drawn irrevocably to both Chang and the mystery, Reacher fights to uncover the truth behind Mother’s Rest—a truth that involves the so-called “Deep Web,” the dark undercover space of the Internet. Reacher and Chang traverse the country from Oklahoma to Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in their quest for answers. The final showdown reveals that the crimes of Mother’s Rest are more sinister and terrible than they ever imagined. Despite (or maybe because of) the expected Reacher-novel formula, this series remains as compulsively readable as ever. Child is a master of pacing, stretching out the mystery through short chapters that give rise to bursts of well-choreographed violence. Sentences are choppy, dialogue is fast, yet there is authenticity to Reacher’s world, too. While the mystery is rather shallowly sketched in between the fight sequences, the setting is effectively bland, and the ending makes one feel true horror at the ways of men. Of course, the biggest strength is Reacher himself: impassive, analytical, secretly romantic, and relentlessly honorable. It’s impossible not to root for him and his lady friend of the moment—and Chang, to be fair, is tough, if not multidimensional.
Jack Reacher is still going strong. Will satisfy fans—and newcomers, too.