10 November 2016
Lee Child: Night School
This is #21 in the long running Jack Reacher series. Each year I vow not to read Lee Child's annual episode in the life of Jack Reacher but each year I succumb to the addiction to find out how Child keeps a moribund series breathing. This year Child has run out of new ideas so he has to reinvent the past.
Back in 1996 Reacher is at his zenith as a Major in the CID of the US Army and has just got a medal for a secret operation in Bosnia when he is called to a innocuous "Night School" which really isn't innocuous. The only other students are another couple of guys from the FBI and the CIA who are also at the zenith of their careers. His teachers are from the top echelon of the security system working directly to the President. Of course one of the teachers is an attractive blond haired security specialist.
It is soon very clear that this is not a school but the start of an operation to track down potentially damaging terrorist activity happening in Hamburg, Germany. Child then starts a well written but pretty third-rate post Cold War thriller with Reacher, his trusted sergeant Frances Neagley, CIA agents and German police cooperating to chase down the terrorist threat. Of course Reacher and the attractive blond haired security specialist find time for some, off-plot and unnecessary, close personal collaboration that has nothing to do with chasing terrorists.
The story didn't really need Reacher to be the star who could think and act faster than the rest. It didn't really need Reacher to take on and beat up several German right-wing skinheads singlehanded. The story was there so that Child could reinvent the past to keep the series from running out of steam and keep his long time best-selling character alive and kicking.
While it is well written in Chld's inimitable addictive style, IMHO is doesn't solve the long-term issue that this series has run out of steam. But of course, like me, many people will read the book to find out if this conclusion is correct. Will I be back again next year for another dose of Reacher - at this stage probably not but then I've said that too many times before.