When it comes to reading material, it doesn't get much better when you get an advance readers copy of the latest Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child. I received Never Go Back earlier this week, and it lasted less than 48 hours (so much for it going with me on my upcoming trip). I'm happy to say that the latest installment of Reacher's nomadic "kick butt and remember names" life is far better than the last couple of novels, and this felt like Child was back to the Reacher of old.
Never Go Back ties back to the earlier novel 61 Hours. In that one, Reacher is communicating with Major Susan Turner, the commander of his old unit. He never meets her, but he becomes obsessed with her voice. He's willing to travel halfway across the country to see if his mental image matches with reality. Since he has no place that he calls home, he might as well head to Virginia.
When he gets to his old base, it's apparent that the people there know a fair amount about him. Major Turner is no longer in command, as she was arrested the day before on charges of taking a bribe to hide the name of a suspect. It gets worse when Reacher is "detained" on the spot with criminal charges of an assault that happened over 17 years ago (and that he doesn't remember). He's also facing a paternity case from a woman he doesn't remember from 15 years prior. He has to wonder if he really has a 14 year old daughter. He can take off and return to his anonymous life, or he can stay and fight. One guess as to what option he takes. Nothing seems right about Major Turner's arrest and his detention, and he's willing to risk everything to uncover the truth... as well as being able to meet Major Turner face to face and take her out to dinner.
Never Go Back clicked on all cylinders for me. Reacher was back to his old form, and his actions had a reason and motivation behind them. The reason behind his (and Major Turner's) legal issues remain a mystery as the story unfolds, and I found it nearly impossible to stop turning pages. "Just one more chapter" ended up meaning "until I start the next chapter". It also struck me that since the NSA revelations, the ability to track Reacher nearly instantaneously for hotel check-ins and credit card use (even if they weren't his) isn't much of a stretch as it used to be.
When Never Go Back is released, you'll want to read it... now. You won't want to wait.
(And in fairness... In my last Reacher review, I mentioned that the casting of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher was the worst casting decision ever. After seeing the movie, I have to say I was wrong. While Cruise is *not* Reacher in terms of physical appearance, I felt he got the character and attitude down cold. If the Reacher movie gets additional episodes, Cruise would continue to work, in my opinion...)
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