This is the latest Jack Reacher thriller – I bought it hot off the press in the autumn but kept it until Christmas. This story is for a large part set in London, which unusual for these thrillers. Reacher must engage rival gangs in the East and West End to track down a sniper who wishes revenge on Reacher himself. Reacher has to outwit Little Joey, who dwarfs Reacher (no mean feat, Reacher is 6’6″ and 250lbs, something Hollywood casting directors would do well to remember).
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This story was long awaited, partly because the author has been building up to the meeting of Jack Reacher with Susan Turner and his journey across America to Virginia for several books – this association started in the book 61 Hours, so definitely worth reading that one and before this. On the other hand, this book is one of the best Jack Reacher thrillers, so you might not want to wait. I was waiting to read this in paperback, but was delighted to receive it in a beautiful hardcover edition for my birthday.
I prefer Jack Reacher novels when he works with an accomplice, often a woman, to solve a case and hand out his own brand of justice to the perpetrators. Never Go Back fits the bill and matches The Enemy for excitement and daring plot as a result. There are other plot twists – this book is all about Reacher’s past coming back to haunt him. Does he have a child? Has one of his many violent episodes resulted in a conviction that will see him jailed? Will his previous service in the army see him forcibly conscripted to serve his country again? I tried hard to pace myself reading this one, having polished off other Reacher novels in a couple of days and then having a long wait for the next one. Unfortunately, once I was a few chapters in, I was hooked and as usual sped through it. The compelling question was – having gone back, would Reacher leave again? Or would he finally have re-discovered a life for which it was worth settling down?
My Dad gave me a rather nice hard back edition of this book – I’d read it once before, but it’s one of the best Jack Reacher thrillers and I was happy to read it again. What makes it so good? Well, it’s a flash back to when Reacher was in the army, and it explains one of the mysteries of this series that’s often mentioned in other books – why did he suffer demotion back to Captain? It also touches on his family background and we see his strained relationship with his brother. It seems that everything and everyone is against him – his awful boss, the higher echelons of the army, his sick mother’s health. Being Reacher, he takes it on the chin, ignores the growing list of dangerous enemies, makes a valuable ally in fellow MP Summer, and stays true to his own code of justice.
I’d read a few negative reviews of this Jack Reacher thriller before I read the book. I agree that it’s different to the majority of the books in the series: for one thing, the author concentrates on the cerebral side of Reacher’s character and concentrates too much on his exceptional memory for phone numbers and mathematical abilities (these aren’t pertinent to the plot so why keep referring to them?); for another, there’s far less action in this book (usually, Reacher’s run into trouble at a bar within the first few pages, here we’re into the finale before he gets into a fight). It’s not really up to the usual standards, but it’s still a better read than a couple of other books I failed to get into recently.
The first Jack Reacher thriller I read was One Shot. It came free with a copy of the London Evening Standard. That’s when the Standard cost 50p, before it became a free paper. On the back of that, I went on to read all the Jack Reacher stories – and One Shot wasn’t even the best. The best stories are those in which he gets members from his team of Special Investigators back together.
Persuader is one of the stories in which Reacher hooks up with a team – in this case, some government agents. Reacher gets a second chance to take revenge on an old adversary, whilst helping the agents to crack a gang of suspected smugglers.
Why is Reacher such a compelling character? He’s incredibly violent yet he’s smart too – like a cross between Jean Claude van Damme and Sherlock Holmes. He shuns convention – no fixed abode, he wanders wherever fate takes him, without any care for material goods (except the ever-present folding toothbrush). He stays true to his own code of Justice. Once committed to a cause, he never backs off. Men respect him, women flock to him. What’s not to like?!