My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I needed an antidote to the news of the day. In a world where political leaders and their apologists on the right straight-facedly justify the use of torture and where policemen are not held accountable for killing unarmed citizens, it seems that justice is as rare as unicorns. I wanted to visit a world where bad guys are actually punished for their bad deeds. A Jack Reacher novel seemed like an appropriate choice.
I had read the first two Reacher novels (Killing Floor and Die Trying) and wasn't all that impressed, but at least I felt sure that in Reacherworld evil would not triumph. So I dipped into Lee Child's third offering in the series.
We meet Reacher in Key West, digging swimming pools by hand and building up his already prodigious muscles. He has this job, plus a second one as bouncer at a club, because he's low on cash and needs some ready money. Things have been going along swimmingly, so to speak, for three months, and then a private detective from New York turns up looking for him. Reacher is suspicious and doesn't admit to his identity when approached by the man. Soon after that incident, he discovers the man's body on the street. He's been horribly murdered.
Reacher wonders if the man's murder has anything to do with his search for someone named Jack Reacher and he decides to backtrack the murdered man and find the client he was working for in order to get to the bottom of things. His investigation leads him to the home of his mentor and former commanding officer in the Army, General Leon Garber. He finds that Garber has recently died but that his daughter, Jodie, for whom Reacher has always carried a torch, is very much alive and more beautiful than ever.
Garber had been trying to find Jack because he wanted him to take over the investigation into a Vietnam era soldier who is listed as MIA. Garber was ill and knew he wouldn't be able to complete the investigation. Reacher and Jodie follow up on the information that they have and it leads them into a web of pure evil.
If I had hoped to escape stories of torture, this was definitely the wrong book to turn to. The bad guy here, who calls himself Victor "Hook" Hobie (that's also the name of the MIA) revels in torturing his victims and every few pages throughout the book brought more descriptions of his acts. It was depressing to say the least.
And in between the torture scenes, we get to read about the lovemaking of Reacher and Jodie, long separated by life events and never able to express their love for one another until now. Indeed, much of the book reads like a romance novel. I know a lot of readers just eat this stuff up and more power to them, but I find it most often turns me off rather than on.
The mystery at the center of the story - what happened to Victor Hobie in Vietnam and is he really that evil character who now goes by that name - is easy enough to figure out. I got there way ahead of Reacher. Of course, i wasn't being distracted by the delicious Jodie.
It's really hard for me to rate this book. It's not truly awful but it would be wrong to say I enjoyed it. In a perfect world, I'd give it two-and-a-half stars. Since that isn't possible, I'll be generous and give three.
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