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Reaching for another win

Jack Reacher series expands

By Matthew J. Meyer

For The Free Lance-Star

LEE CHILD’s latest, “A  Wanted Man,” begins  as a whodunit detective story and ends as a terrorist thriller. Once again, it features Jack Reacher,  Child’s hero of 17 novels.

For those who have not read other  Reacher novels, the character  is an iconic, larger than life, able-bodied tough guy with as much intelligence and integrity as muscle.  He understands what makes people tick and has finely honed criminal investigative skills thanks to his time in the military police.

In short, he is the good guy  Child has successfully featured through this  series. He continues to deliver body-checking action and suspense.

“A Wanted Man” begins  in rural Nebraska at an abandoned water-pumping station with the mob-style killing of an unknown man for no obvious reason.

The local sheriff and FBI start to set up roadblocks for the murderers. Reacher, who is hitchhiking through the area, is offered a ride with two men and a woman who seem like business colleagues.

But as the ride continues, Reacher  senses uncomfortable stresses in the group, and figures out that  the roadblocks are actually set for these two men—and that the woman has been kidnapped.

When the group stops for gas, Reacher’s presence, as a decoy in changing the composition of the group to confound the police, has now  become a liability and he is shot at and left for dead.

Now the chase truly begins, as Reacher is able to contact the FBI and join the search.

Child fills “A Wanted Man” with unexpected and ingenious plot twists.  What Reacher and the FBI finally unravel involves a CIA double agent and an abandoned Cold War bombproof facility—one  that might hold nuclear waste and definitely holds the key to  terrorist plans.

Through it all,  Reacher  is   uncompromising, unrelenting and unflappable in pursuit of a mission he has just happened upon, because it is the right thing to do.

Once again, Lee Child has devised a story that enthralls the reader with its fast-paced action and contemporary themes.

All Reacher titles have been optioned for major motion pictures—the first of which may be released as early as December, starring Tom Cruise in the title role. It could be argued that  Reacher’s burly physicality would be underrepresented by Cruise, but that remains to be seen.

For readers who enjoy this story as their first Jack Reacher adventure,  there is an extensive list of additional titles on tap.

Matthew J. Meyer is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.


By Lee Child

(Delacorte, $28, 416 pp.)



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