Despite plenty of page-turning propulsion, this is one of the lesser novels in the series.
Now that Jack Reacher has become a film franchise, it seems that he—or maybe his author (Never Go Back, 2013, etc.)—is spreading himself a little thin. The 19th novel featuring the former MP–turned–Zen do-gooder—dubbed “Sherlock Homeless” by one of his old Army officers—once again starts with him drifting with nothing more than the clothes on his back—no cellphone or bank account, no plans, no destination, no history that’s apparent to anyone he encounters. Yet, through a stretch of plotting coincidence, he finds himself pulled into his military past and then thrust into an international conspiracy involving a sniper—or are there more than one?—and an assassination plot. He also inevitably finds himself paired with a possible romantic interest, the improbably named Casey Nice (“Nice by name, nice by nature”), about whom he muses, “Was there a finer place to be, than where those jeans were?” The plot quickly (in a Reacher novel, everything happens quickly) complicates itself like a chess match, as it turns out that only four snipers in the world have the capability of making the shot, each of a different nationality, each with his own country’s authorities pursuing him. One of them is a man Reacher sent to prison 16 years earlier and who has, conveniently enough, just been released. After a close call in Paris, our hero and Ms. Nice travel to London, where a gathering of global leaders will provide a convenient target (whomever the target turns out to be). At one point, when his partner reminds Reacher that there's no death penalty in Britain, he replies, “There is now,” with the sort of catchphrase bravado one might expect from Dirty Harry. Since Reacher has never been much of a team player or an organization man, the plot really shifts into high gear when he cuts himself loose and does what he does best.
Every Reacher novel delivers a jolt to the nervous system, but this lacks some of the stylistic flair that truly distinguishes Child.