If you haven’t met Jack Reacher yet, you’ll find him to be either your best friend or your worst enemy. A former Army investigator now in civilian guise, his ability to read the wind and find whoever it is he decides to search out fits perfectly with his itinerant lifestyle and the interesting coincidental violence that he finds himself involved in. Child’s protagonist is a multi-dimensional man with a profound sense of justice: righteousness does not end with the capture of an elusive perpetrator but with the suffering and sometimes demise of that individual. Judge, jury, and executioner. I came to discover the Reacher series through the paperback version of The Hard Way picked up while browsing before plane trip to L.A. and was captured from page one.
In the latest saga, Bad Luck and Trouble, someone has made the mistake of killing members of Reacher’s former investigative unit by dropping them helplessly from the back of a helicopter onto the packed sand of the Southern California desert. When he is cryptically contacted by another member of his former unit, Frances Neagley, and told of the murder, Reacher snaps into action vowing to avenge the death rather than just finding the murderer. Bound by the creed ‘no one messes with the army investigators’, Neagley has attempted to reassemble the remaining members of the crew only to discover that others have fallen to the same fate. The four who remain work methodically to close the noose on a murderous plot involving terrorism and a new form of SAMs.
Reacher is the perfect combination of brains and brawn to keep propelling the story forward. The picture the reader forms in their mind of this mind is well fed by Child’s prose. Laconic and violent when the situation calls for it, he can also be a smooth conversationalist when he wants to extract the secrets that you are so desperately trying to keep buried. His actions never veer into the implausible, except for the picture of Reacher folding himself into a hot rod Honda as surveillance cover. He takes his place alongside Harry Bosch, Elvis Cole, and Joe Pike as my choices for escapist heroes.