Jack Reacher is a loner. A hobo. Pushed from the military following restructuring in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, he now wanders America, taking in the breadth and scope of the land he once served. He has no stated goal. No home, no familial ties, no friends, no job. He has nothing but the clothes on his back and the cash in his wallet. He’s a force of nature. He just is.
He’s also a giant.
Taking a detour through Georgia and looking for the memory of a long dead blues guitarist, he stops in the small town of Margrave, where he gets mistaken for being behind the savage killing of an unnamed man. While waiting for the verification of his alibi to clear him, he uncovers a deeper mystery….
Overall, this is a fairly solid thriller, especially for a debut. The prose is fairly crisp, and the characters are well drawn (for the most part, keep reading for exceptions), if a little too on the nose, and the mystery at the heart of the novel isn’t overly contrived or needlessly complex, though it is also fairly easy to suss out.
And while I can’t speak for the later volumes in this series (which I think is pushing 20 volumes at this point), I found this to be better written than a lot of commercial literature. At least, I appreciated how taught this was relative to the recent Lincoln Child books that I’ve read.
The biggest problem I had was that none of the non-Jack Reacher characters were particularly smart. Part of the plot revolves around a phone number found on the person of the dead man. The cops think the number is Reacher’s, which he denies. After they realize Reacher didn’t commit the murder, they are stumped on how to find out who the number belongs to, until Reacher suggests…..calling it. The lead detective here has twenty years experience in Boston and got a graduate degree from Harvard, but he needs Reacher to tell him how to find out the owner of a phone number?
Even worse is the female and token love interest, Roscoe. She’s supposedly the best officer in Margrave, but spends most of the novel fearfully leaning on Reacher for support and direction. If she was an accountant? Okay. But she’s a cop. She should’ve been a stronger character.
For the most part, though, I don’t think there’s much here to get upset about. For what it is, this was a pretty good novel. Well worth the time.