Jack Reacher finds himself involved in a race to stop a major terrorist operation.
The Reacher series has had several entries set during its hero's time as an Army investigator. This outing is situated between the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the turn of the millennium, in a time of fear that the coming of Y2K might bring chaos. In other words, a time when the public still considered terrorism only a faint possibility for the United States. Reacher is part of a trio of government experts trying to track down an American who appears to have sold something to Middle Eastern radicals operating out of Hamburg. The novel tries to work up suspense by highlighting how unknowingly close Reacher and his quarry are operating to each other, but the missed connections and the way the action jumps from the U.S. to Europe impedes any momentum. That's not the whole problem, though. The novel contains descriptions of torture which are incidental to the plot and sour the rest of the book. And the shift here to terrorism, as opposed to the individual crime and corporate machinations that provided the villains in most of the series' other entries, doesn't sit right. Reacher novels are terrific pop entertainments. But they don't possess the weight or moral seriousness that allowed books by Eric Ambler, Geoffrey Household, and John le Carré to plausibly confront the dangers and moral dilemmas of their day.
For the first time in 20 books, the man-mountain Reacher, and the story around him, moves like a lug.