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by Lee Child

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-399-59348-2
Publisher: Delacorte

A glimpse of a West Point class ring in a pawn shop window sends Jack Reacher on his latest adventure in the 22nd entry in Child's (No Middle Name, 2017, etc.) series.

On his latest travel to nowhere, Reacher, the peripatetic badass/guardian angel, steps off a bus at a rest stop and, while stretching his legs, glimpses a ring belonging to a female cadet. Knowing what it takes to earn that ring, especially for the women who still have to prove themselves to the military, Reacher buys it and, with nothing more than the initials inscribed inside to guide him, sets out to return to it to his fellow West Point alum. Of course it lands him in trouble, this time with a ring of opioid dealers, but at least he has a former FBI agent–turned-detective and the sister of the ring's owner for company. It's a good idea to give Reacher company since he plays well with others when they're on his side. How he plays badly with those who aren't is also part of the fun. So are the clever Sherlock-ian deductive skills that Reacher, a former Army investigator, puts to good use. Blessedly, there are none of the grisly moments that broke faith with readers in the series' last installment (Night School, 2016). And the book is very smart about illegal drugs, understanding that the face of the present crisis is largely white and rural and that the government's attempt to crack down on drugs ignores both the very real pleasure and the often necessary pain relief they bring to users, especially vets. The book makes a rather icky sentimental misstep toward the end. It does, however, suggest something that has not been visible in the series' previous entries: a creeping sadness in Reacher's wanderings that, set here among the vast and empty landscapes of Wyoming, resembles the peculiarly solitary loneliness of the classic American hero.

This return to form is also a hint of new ground to be covered.