Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2019
This is my first Jack Reacher, but the third in a long series by Mr. Child. Jack is a barely believable strong man. He was in the Military Police in the Army and was under fire in Viet Nam, so he is acquainted with a sprinkling of what are now general officers. The story is set before Nine-Eleven and our Middle East involvements. He is now a civilian and as the story opens is leading a solitary life in Florida, digging swimming pools for a living but open to carrying out private investigations for whoever is willing to hire him. He is engaged, indirectly, by an elderly couple who lost their son in ‘Nam, but has ever since been listed as Missing in Action. They want to know more, but the Army is uncommunicative. Further, the plot thickens significantly when the investigator hired by the couple, before Jack, is found dead, with his fingertips cut off to thwart identification. We are then plunged into a convoluted story which centers on a merciless loan shark who tortures and kills anyone who gets in his way. Jack ends up as the only one who can bring him down.
I found the tale engrossing and freely admit that I read it avidly, but it is undeniably long-winded. Are writers still being paid by the word? Further, it is basically unbelievable. For example, in the final pages, Jack is in the hospital, recovering from, among other things, a bullet wound from a .38 caliber pistol fired at close range into his chest. But this is Jack Reacher’s chest, whose pectoral muscle is “so thick and so dense” that a bullet fired into it was stopped 3” in by an intervening rib. This is not a normal pectoral; it is an unpeeled coconut. In addition, Jack Reacher’s skull was penetrated by a nail that thrust a quarter inch into the frontal lobe of his brain, but he remained Jack Reacher, alert as ever behind a Neanderthal skull. Sorry, Charlie; pulp fiction. Four stars.