I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
After an epic and interrupted journey all the way from the snows of South Dakota, former military cop Jack Reacher has finally made it to Virginia. His destination: a sturdy stone building a short bus ride from Washington D.C., the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. It was the closest thing to a home he ever had.
Why? He wants to meet the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. He liked her voice on the phone. But the officer sitting behind his old desk isn’t a woman. Is Susan Turner dead? In Afghanistan? Or in a car wreck?
What Reacher doesn't expect to hear is that Turner has just been fired from her command. Nor that he himself is in big trouble, accused of a sixteen-year-old homicide. And he certainly doesn't expect to hear these words: ‘You’re back in the army, Major. And your ass is mine.’
This selection for my book club starts our "Year of Reading Fluff." After last year, in which we had two books featuring people dying of cancer, one member declared that she didn't want to read any more "cancer books" and the idea for the fluff year was born.
This was my first Jack Reacher adventure and it is apparently number 18 in the sequence, so there were a few assumptions made about the reader's knowledge of Reacher that I couldn't possibly be privy to. I was certainly able to enjoy the book despite that, as it rattled along at high speed to an inevitable conclusion.
There are a fair number of women involved in this book--Turner, the military commander that Reacher rescues/kidnaps because he liked "the sound of her voice"; both of the lawyers assigned to Reacher's cases; and of course Samantha, Reacher's potential daughter out in California. But they are all, of course, focused on Jack and barely register each other's existence. Bechdel test: Fail. And I ended up wondering what Turner saw in Reacher, who seemed very sociopathic to me, even though he seemed to have a "code" which he more or less adhered to (rather like Dexter in that regard). Reacher is definitely an anti-hero and not particularly likeable, though as a reader I didn't find that I held that against him.
Just like a good murder mystery, but with military trappings instead of forensics, the novel keeps you reading, just to see how Child is going to wrap up all the loose ends and explain why it all got started. Reacher and Turner are, of course, completely exonerated (despite a fair bit of criminal activity) and return to their previous existences.
Not bad, as fluff goes, but not a series that I will be pursuing in the future.