Ironically, it took an English author to realize the dramatic possibilities of modernizing the wandering gunfighter of American frontier stories. Starting in 1997 with Killing Floor, Lee Child introduced Jack Reacher, a former military policeman with a fascination for blues music and prime numbers, a Luddite with a highly developed limbic brain and a compulsion to wander the United States, walking, hitchhiking, or traveling by bus, carrying only cash, a toothbrush, and his passport. He doesn’t look for trouble, but he certainly doesn’t walk away from it. And one more distinctive element: his appearance. “He was six feet five. 250 pounds. His hair was a disheveled mess. He was unshaved. Children had been known to run screaming at the sight of him.”
Most of the Reacher books have been #1 bestsellers. What makes this new Reacher novel (the 25th) a special publishing event is that the series now has a cowriter, Andrew Child, who also writes as Andrew Grant (Too Close to Home) and is Lee Child’s younger brother. Booksellers and Reacher fans might wonder if anything has changed. A line from The Sentinel will reassure them that nothing has changed. “Someone had sent six guys after . It would be wrong to let the day end with only two of them in the hospital.” This time, Reacher arrives in a town near Nashville, where he heads toward one of his favorite destinations, a coffee shop, only to notice that someone is about to be abducted. Reacher being Reacher, he saves the stranger and ends up confronting a conspiracy involving cyber ransom, election sabotage, a Cold War secret, and... enough to say that plenty is happening.
Much of The Sentinel is humorous as Reacher patiently teaches bad guys about the flaws in their tactics. While there’s lots of action, the novel also feels like a procedural as Reacher interviews suspects and delves deeper toward the truth. On occasion, almost subliminal references to Reacher’s background, especially his mother’s harsh childhood in France during WWII, suggest a motive for his increasing anger toward the people he’s hunting. In the last 50 pages, that anger intensifies, with Reacher battling numerous enemies in the many levels of an underground complex—one of the most inventive action sequences in recent memory.
Apart from some timely plot elements (the title refers to a software program designed to prevent election fraud, for example), this new Reacher novel could have been published earlier. It continues the series without any sense that there’s now a coauthor. In a year of drastic change, fans will welcome the consistency. (Oct.)
David Morrell is the bestselling author of First Blood and Murder as a Fine Art.
Jack Reacher returns in the 25th book in the series (after Blue Moon). The big franchise news is that Child and his brother, thriller writer Andrew Grant (False Witness), will cowrite several Reacher novels before Child hands over the reins to his brother, who also inherits the "Child" name. In this first collaboration, Reacher stops in Nashville, where he quickly "adjudicates" a dispute between a local band and a club owner. Then he heads out of town and straight into more trouble in a small burg 75 miles south of Nashville. The town's computer systems have been hacked and ransomed, and everyone blames Rusty Rutherford, the town's IT person. Rusty meets Reacher when Reacher saves him from an attempted kidnapping. He stays on to help Rusty untangle the motivations of his would-be abductors. Reacher encounters cops good and bad, Russian thugs, a mysterious millionaire, fierce women, and lots of people he just has to beat up. VERDICT Longtime fans will be satisfied with this straightforward adventure filled with familiar Reacherisms and more depth. He even acquires a cell phone, briefly. Those who enjoy Grant's "David Trevellyan" series will also enjoy this book. It's fun—but also difficult—to try to discern which brother wrote what.—Liz French, Library Journal
Brothers Lee and Andrew Child collaborate on this fast-paced thriller, 25th in the Jack Reacher series.
Reacher forces a bar manager to pay two Nashville musicians being cheated out of their night’s pay. You don’t mess with Reacher, an ex-Army MP who is 6-feet-5 and 250 pounds, but if you try to hurt someone he’ll mess with you. So when he witnesses bad guys (who turn out to be Russians) trying to kidnap a man, Reacher comes to the rescue. Said rescuee is Rusty Rutherford, who has been unjustly fired from his job as a nearby town’s IT manager. Locally, everyone hates Rusty because of a disaster with the town’s computers. But Reacher goes to great lengths to protect him. A police officer asks, “Why do you care so much about Rusty Rutherford? No one else does.” Turns out he may have “something a certain foreign power is desperate to get its hands on.” Someone is “specifically trying to erode faith in the election system itself.” (Well, that’s a ridiculous premise—who would ever mess with American elections?) Reacher is a most entertaining character: His “default was to move extremely slow or extremely fast,” and in this Tennessee town he does lots of the latter. He needs to, with guys like Denisov, a Russian interrogator who has the “ability to loosen tongues. And bowels.” Smart but not especially deep, Reacher is decidedly low-tech, unfamiliar with computers or cellphones. And of course he’s a larger-than-life fighter who can really give evildoers what they deserve. Other than that, he sees a problem, fixes it, and moves on. The story’s style is crisp, sometimes too much so. Plenty of short sentences. Like this. And it can grate. Or maybe it’s great. You decide.
The plot, the pace, and the punches will keep Child fans satisfied. Reach for this one.
From the Publisher
I loved The Sentinel! Classic Reacher, great story. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I do love the spare writing style, the descriptions, Reacher’s responses to threats. Joyous stuff. I hope there will be many more Reachers to come.”—Conn Iggulden
“It’s great to be back in [Reacher’s] company in a world where the bad guys get what’s coming to them. . . . A smooth transition for a much-loved character.”—The Observer
“As always, the bad guys—this time, Russian spies and American-Nazi thugs—discover too late that they are no match for Reacher. Despite the change in authors, the writing remains tight and the non-stop action is as propulsive as ever.”—Associated Press
“As ever, [Reacher is] the sole, unrivalled champion of the average man.”—Daily Mail
“Fresh, perfectly plotted, and packed with action, The Sentinel is one of the year’s best, must-read thrillers.”—The Real Book Spy
“It’s terrific. . . . The story is just as powerful. . . . Brutal action mixes with keen-eyed detective work as Reacher metes out his own brand of justice. . . . If this novel is a harbinger of what’s to come, then Jack is in good hands.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Much of The Sentinel is humorous as Reacher patiently teaches bad guys about the flaws in their tactics. While there’s lots of action, the novel also feels like a procedural as Reacher interviews suspects and delves deeper toward the truth. . . . [The Sentinel has] one of the most inventive action sequences in recent memory. . . . It continues the series without any sense that there’s now a coauthor. In a year of drastic change, fans will welcome the consistency.”—Publishers Weekly