Lee Child’s 2019 blockbuster ticks all the usual boxes. Readers have come to expect certain things, and Child always delivers.
Travelling on a Greyhound bus, Jack Reacher notices that a passenger is taking an unhealthy interest in an elderly man further up the aisle. When the old man gets off, so does the apparent stalker. Reacher’s instinct kicks in and he follows, preventing a serious mugging. The old man was carrying a fat envelope crammed with dollar bills. He’s grateful but doesn’t want Reacher to get involved. He won’t reveal why he is carrying so much money. Reacher helps the old man get home, and slowly the backstory of old Mr and Mrs Shevick.
Meanwhile, two rival factions, Ukrainian and Albanian, are at each other’s throats. There is a connection between them and the old man. And Reacher doesn’t like it. As he sees it, ‘This is a random universe. Once in a blue moon things turn out just right. Like now.’ (p44)
This time Reacher enlists the help of a plucky waitress Abby and a couple of musicians; as if he needs help…. While first meeting Abby Reacher listens to a band’s rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Killing Floor’ (p89) – a neat reference to Child’s first Reacher novel. The love interest is there, but not laboured. Of late, I reckon that Reacher had become excessively more violent. The body count is very high. No matter: the bad guys get what they deserve…
As usual, not a lot happens, except in a few brief violent scenes but Child keeps you turning the pages in order to get to the bloody end.
The formula works. Why knock it?