Reacher’s back and Child’s got him tracking a complex case, springing surprises and dispatching a nasty crew in a punishing finish.
For number nine in the Jack Reacher series, author Child (The Enemy, 2004, etc.) dispatches his singular hero to Indiana, where a sniper has just taken out five victims as they headed home on a Friday afternoon. Evidence at the scene—notably, a shell case and a quarter bearing the same fingerprints—seems to clinch the case against James Barr, a former Army Infantry sniper. He’s arrested but insists he’s the wrong man: “Get Jack Reacher for me,” he says. But the game is not quite afoot. Instead of clearing Barr, Reacher wants to convict him. Years ago, it seems, Reacher was an investigating MP when Barr, in an attack very similar to the Indiana shootout, shot and killed four people in Kuwait City. Twisted military politics, however, intervened in the case and Barr walked free. Reacher vowed revenge. But now Barr’s sister Rosemary, convinced of her brother’s innocence, entreats lawyer Helen Rodin to take the case—a case that Rodin’s father, the district attorney, will prosecute. The suspect, alas, recovering from a prison beating that has left him suffering from amnesia, offers little information to help his plight. Still, Helen and Rosemary grab at straws, and, sifting through their clues in a keen, fascinating analysis, Reacher concludes Barr really is innocent. Who, then, set up Barr as the sniper? And who is trying to get Reacher off the case? Is it the Russian gang that’s been shadowing him since he arrived in town? Who’s behind the thugs who tried to work over Reacher when he left a local sports bar? Are they also behind the murder of a woman Reacher met there? Child caps his steadily building narrative with a gonzo action scene that seems a little heavy for Indiana.
Par for the series: canny plotting, tight prose, swift tempo.