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The answer is that this book is still one of the best in the series and very little has changed in the basics of later books (as long as you ignore the unnecessary Movie diversion). Does this sound familiar:
* Reacher has been drifting for 3 months after leaving the military. He has no ID and only uses cash.
* His travel destinations on bus, train or hitch hiking are random. This time he plans to visit the place where blues singer Blind Blake died.
* He accidentally gets accused of a crime he didn't commit and ends up helping the police with the investigation (and his skills exceed those of the police).
* There is mutual attraction with a female police officer.
* Reacher can defend himself against multiple assailants.
Child's prose is still basically very short sentences, each clearly describing an action,or scene and is most effective in keeping the reader's attention and the action moving.