For me, there’s a lot of suspense before I read a Jack Reacher thriller. A recent tradition is that Lee Child is interviewed by Phil Williamson Radio 5Live, discusses the book that’s just been published, and reveals the first line of the next book. So in September 2015, we knew the title was Night School and the first line would be: “In the morning they gave Reacher a medal, and in the afternoon they sent him back to school”. And in September 2016, he talked more about the plot. Then I received a lovely hardback edition of the book for Christmas and finally picked it up to read a week ago. A long build-up, plenty of suspense – would the book be up to the usual standard?
Yes, of course it is. It’s a flashback to the 1990’s, the days that Reacher was still in the army, at the top of his game, sent on a special investigation to find and destroy a terrorist cell in Germany. The book features the enigmatic Frances Neagley as well, his top sergeant from the 110th Military Police. It has all the hallmarks of a classic Jack Reacher thriller, even cheekily putting the standard description of him as “six feet five and two hundred fifty pounds”, even though Tom Cruise is probably picturing himself playing the role in the next movie as I write this. The book starts with the premise of an overheard conversation: “The American wants 100 million dollars” – Lee Child doesn’t disappoint.
Here’s the first line of the next book, which carries on from Make Me: “Jack Reacher and Michelle Chang spent three days in Milwaukee. On the fourth morning, she was gone.”