A good guy outsmarts a venomous viper, outguns a gazillion villains—and falls in love with a nice gal. Continuing at loose ends after being separated from the Army (the peace dividend, you know), former MP Major Jack Reacher (Die Trying, 1998, etc.) is down in Key West rather enjoying irresponsibility—until a private investigator shows up looking for him. The following day the p.i. turns up dead, fingertips sliced off for the purpose of preserving his incognito. Something nefarious is going on here, Reacher concludes, stirred by a burst of the old action-hero adrenaline. All he knows for sure, however, is that the detective was hired by a Ms. Jacob. Pause for a deductive leap or two, then on to New York to track down the mysterious Ms. Jacob. But what’s in a name? It soon develops that Ms. J isn’t mysterious at all. In fact, she’s an old friend. Before she was married, the Ms. J., now divorced, was a J already—Jodie Garber, daughter of General Garber, Reacher’s erstwhile commanding officer and mentor. Reacher last saw her when she was 15 and in the throes of a violent crush on him. Now she’s 30, and as gorgeous as you might have guessed. Among other things, she needs Reacher to finish a task begun by her recently deceased father. Reacher accepts the mission, of course, and is immediately in confrontation with a sadistic demon, obligatorily brilliant, whose intricate scam has roots in Vietnam and whose pleasure in killing and maiming is unconfined. But love (for Jodie) has not blunted Reacher’s martial capabilities, and from a climactic one-on-one with Hook (the sadistic demon) Hobie, he emerges scathed but triumphant. Unabashedly mindless but fun: Reacher swashbuckles with the best of them.