Book nineteen of the Jack Reacher series
By Lee Child
Available now from Delacorte (Penguin Random House)
My grandfather gave me a copy of PERSUADER, telling me that it was a good airplane novel and Jack Reacher was "a good man to know and a bad man to have for an enemy." My family has always loved sharing their favorite novels with me, since they know I'll read anything and talk about it after. PERSUADER was the last book my grandfather ever gave me. As such, I have a special soft spot for the Jack Reacher series.
Now, this series isn't one you think of when you think of a soft spot. It's almost hypermasculine, with a retired military police hero who has no home or real possessions, and who always happens to be in the wrong place at the right time. In this case, he's lured there by an ad in a paper meant just for him. An assassination attempt was made on the French president, and it appears to have been an audition for an assassination at the upcoming G8 or G20 summit. One of the suspects is a man Reacher put in jail almost two decades ago. (He kept up his sniper skills through yoga, as one does.) And so he's on the case, his only companion a young CIA agent with anxiety issues.
Casey Nice is young, pretty, and reminds Reacher of Dominique Kohl, one of his proteges who was tortured and murdered when she went to arrest a suspect. It's ground the series has covered before, although Lee Child thankfully doesn't make us witness any flirtation between the twenty-something Casey and the reaching-true-retirement-age Reacher. However, their relationship is one of the highlights of the book. The plot, such as it is, is a bit ridiculous even for a macho thriller. Child's attention to research and detail just helps highlight how goofy elements like the yoga sniper and the giant man with fingers larger than sausages and a house 150% as big as a normal house are.
It didn't take me long at all to read PERSONAL, because Lee Child does know how to keep the pages turning. But at nineteen books, the Jack Reacher series seems to be churning a bit of water. There's a high level of silliness to the proceedings. It doesn't, however, erase the memories of the tight earlier books or discussing them with my grandfather. I like to think that if he was still alive, he'd have fun reading the newest book in his favorite series.