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27 August 2013

Lee Child: Never Go Back

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Reacher's 18th Repetition
There are not many authors who can write 18 books in a series and keep people's interest. Lee Child has done that for years with his very successful Jack Reacher series and I was looking forward to reading this book to see if it was sufficiently different to maintain my interest. The answer is that I still found the story entertaining but, despite the unusual plot line of Reacher being dragged back into the military after many years, the rest was repetition of a well worn theme.

After leaving the military Jack Reacher has become a nomad, wandering the US to wherever takes his interest. Recently his interest went back to how his old unit, the 110th MP, was faring and he had spoken with the new CO, Major Susan Turner, on the phone. Reacher liked her voice and wants to meet her so travels to Washington DC where the unit is still located. What he doesn't expect to find is that there is now another new commanding officer who promptly tells Reacher that he is under investigation for two offences, the death of a suspect who he is accused of attacking and a paternity suit for a 14 year old girl.

What Reacher didn't realise was that, because of his rank and security clearance, he can be recalled to the military at any time if he is in good health and under 55 (if you have been in the US Military I would carefully examine your discharge papers). The new CO tells him he has been recalled and "You're back in the army, Major. And your ass is mine."

So far so good - a scenario to make a new Jack Reacher book different. But from then on it was more of the same for Reacher - on the road escaping from trumped up charges, taking on and injuring the baddies, and getting evidence to clear himself (and on this occasion the attractive Susan Turner who is also under investigation) and sleeping in worn out motels to avoid detection.

While overall I enjoyed the book I found the repetitious parts overwhelmed the different scenario. So I repeat something I said in my review of  "A Wanted Man", 17th in the Jack Reacher series, that IMHO the series showing signs of running out of steam. Nevertheless I know that this book will be another bestseller for Lee Child (the back cover of the book tells me that a Jack Reacher novel is sold somewhere in the world every four seconds and the sales of this book will keep up the momentum).

Many of you may not be aware of the minor stoush between Lee Child and David Baldacci which continues in this book. Baldacci has written two books in his John Puller series with a lead character with very similar size, background and abilities as Jack Reacher. In "A Wanted Man", Child included a dim witted deputy named John Puller. When Reacher met Puller and found he was a dim wit, he said "Were you dropped on your head as a baby?"  In "Never Go Back" two of the pursuers gets onto a plane with Reacher, but one gets his fingers broken and the other his arm broken by Reacher (incredibly without other passengers knowledge). The name of one of them was Ronald David Baldacci. This may seem funny but I found it a bit childish (please excuse the pun).

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