For those who have obtained oodles of vicarious thrills from the [er…look up number on Google] novels in Lee Child’s hardboiled series about hardboiled Jack Reacher, but who, like me, felt cast down after reading the last one, Nothing to Lose, I have glad tidings: Mr Child is back in the saddle again.
Jack Reacher returns in Gone Tomorrow the [remember to check Google for number of Jack Reacher adventures]th in a series of novels which wonderfully exemplify that fiction genre I term the Lone Wolf vs Seemingly Overwhelming Number of Sociopathic Opponents Whose Confidence in their Superior Numbers Turns Out to be False Confidence Indeed (and Often a Fatal Error) in the Face of the Lone Wolf’s Superior Tactical Skills and Size and Sheer Brutality Novel.
Reacher, ex-MP, loner and drifter who owns nothing more than he can carry in his pockets, finds himself, novel after novel, in the middle of situations screaming out to be set straight. Keen on justice, he does so. He hits bad people hard. They go away.
The last novel was a stinker: The situation screaming out to be set right was the whole darned evil capitalist system of the whole darned United States of Greedy Fat Cats. Mr Child had taken the opportunity afforded by the writing of a bestseller thriller to air his mundane British Lefty politics. Readers looking for the simple pleasure of Jack Reacher’s whupping villians felt cheated. We wanted a boxing ring, not a soapbox.
I wasn’t even going to read the next one — twice-shy and all that — but I peeked inside and was instantly seduced by the well-calculated first line:
“Suicide bombers are easy to spot.”
Oh really? They are? Tell me more, my man. I handed over a wad of electronic funds transfer.
The transfer was rewarded. With Gone Tomorrow we readers who squander on potboilers the effort our first grade teachers invested in teaching us to read may rejoice in the knowledge that Mr. Child delivers a rock’em sock’em good time.
Well, true, he does indulge in a few eurosnarky comments about Reagan, the Bush White House and Gitmo-happy Homeland Security — Child is a Brit, after all, as evidenced by his slip in Reacher’s reference to bathroom “fitments” instead of “fittings” — and snarky comments about the red, white and blue sleeved hand that feeds him evidently cannot be bitten back. But he then gets down to thriller business, sticking to his guns (mostly 9mm) right up to an unusually bloody finale in which a het-up Reacher with only thirty rounds is pitted against eight armed-to-the-teeth homicidal Mujahideen nutballs holed up in Manhattan.
That, plus three other tooth-looseners, two harrowing escapes in the subways of New York, and some cleverly foreshadowed surprises (i.e. Sure, you could have seen them coming from sly little hints, but — ha! — you didn’t did you?) make for the very sort of yikes-almighty! thriller you plunk your devalued dollars down for.
by Lee Child
(Delacorte Press, Hardcover, 432pp.)