After spending 13 years in the military police, Jack Reacher is perfectly content to dig swimming pools by day and bounce at a Key West strip club by night. A man named Costello comes looking for him but is found dead the next day. Tracking Costello's employer takes Reacher to upstate New York and Jodie Garber Jacobs, the daughter of Jack's old commanding officer, Leon Garber. His dying request was to meet with his protege. Why Leon needed to see Jack so desperately is a mystery, but an attempt to kill Reacher and Jodie clarifies the situation. People serious enough to commit a daylight double murder want Reacher and Jodie dead. The question is why? The motive lies in a $100 million Long Island land swindle, and Reacher's opposition is wealthy, ruthless, and as cunning as Reacher.--Tripwire by Lee Child, Copyright ©1999 by Lee Child, published by Putnam Books
Book 3 in the Jack Reacher series finds our hero living in Key West. He’s been there for three months, a record for him ever since the Army cut him loose. During the day he’s digging pools by hand, and at night, he works as a bouncer in a strip club. He hadn’t planned on staying that long, but something about the transient lifestyle of the area appealed to him, and so he stayed, waiting for that “itch” that tells him it’s time to move on. That “itch” comes in the form of a New York detective named Costello. His client, Mrs. Jacob, is looking for him. Reacher doesn’t know a Mrs. Jacob, tells Costello he’s not Jack Reacher and Costello moves on. Later that night, two more New York men show up at the strip club, also looking for Reacher. After dispatching them, and later finding Costello’s dead body, Reacher decides that maybe now would be a good time to move on. His destination? New York City and the mysterious Mrs. Jacob.
Once in New York, he tracks down Costello’s office and find a number for Mrs. Jacob. Her secretary gives him her address and tells him to hurry or he’ll be late. Late for what, Reacher wonders, but rather than ask, goes to the suburban address. There, he finds he’s crashing a funeral reception. The deceased is none other than General Leon Garber, Reacher’s former boss (who made an appearance in Die Trying) and mentor in the Army. And Mrs. Jacob is Garber’s daughter, Jodie, whom he remembers fondly as a skinny teenager from 15 years ago. She’s not a skinny teenager anymore. She’s a lawyer in a New York City firm with a growing reputation of brokering deals between failing companies and their creditors. Reacher’s impressed with her success, however, he finds himself thinking thoughts that he shouldn’t be thinking about the daughter of a man he admired and respected.
After everyone else has left the reception, Reacher finds himself alone with Jodie. The reason she was looking for him, she explains, is not because Leon was ill and dying, but because he had gotten involved with something and, since he was dying, he wanted to pass the task on to Reacher. But Jodie doesn’t have any details, hoping she’d be able to find Reacher in time for her father to pass the task on himself.
It’s a good thing Reacher managed to track Jodie down when he did, as the two goons he ejected from the Key West strip club have decided to pay Jodie a visit. He gets Jodie to safety, they find out who had given Garber his task, and the hunt is on.
Mr. and Mrs. Hobie lost their only son, Victor, in Vietnam. But the Army never officially declared him dead. Thirty years later, he’s still considered MIA. They simply want to know the truth about their son…thirty years is a long time to hold on to hope. Garber agreed to help and started the ball rolling. Now Reacher needs to pick it up and see where it takes him.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Chester Stone, the third generation owner of a family business, is in trouble. He needs $1.1 million dollars to cover operating costs for the next six weeks, but the money isn’t there. He and his CFO juggle and recalculate, but it’s like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Finally, the CFO says he knows about a guy who makes loans to businesses in their sort of situation. Stone makes the appointment and the next day pays a visit to “Hook” Hobie, so named because instead of a prosthetic right hand, he sports a lethal-looking silver hook. Hobie agrees to lend him the money, in exchange for an equity position in the company and 6% interest for the six weeks. Stone agrees, the deal is signed, and the money transferred. Stone breathes a sigh of relief, believing his worries are over.
But they’re only beginning. Hobie puts his newly acquired stock on the market, sinking the value of the company in an instant. Now Stone owes $17 million and has no way to repay. But Hobie has a payment plan. He wants everything. Every Thing Stone owns down to the very clothes on his back. Oh, and a sweet piece of property on the beaches of Long Island Sound. All Hobie needs to do is demonstrate to Stone in no uncertain terms that he holds all the power. He’ll have it all. All he needs is Stone’s signature. And that of a certain female New York City lawyer with a reputation of brokering such deals.
Little does “Hook” Hobie know that Reacher and Jodie are looking for him, too. And Reacher always finds what he’s looking for.
There are some minor unanswered questions, such as what happened to Stone and his wife (I didn’t mention the part she plays in the story, but she is important) at the end. I suppose it’s logical to assume they picked up the pieces, repaired or dissolved the company, and got on with their lives. There’s also the question of the exact nature of Hobie’s relationship with one of his assistants, Tony. I don’t think they had a “relationship” (wink wink nudge nudge), but Tony obviously knows the truth about Hobie and cares a great deal for the man, much more than a superior/assistant business relationship. But the origin of that relationship is unknown and leaves me wondering.
But anyway, I am so loving this series! Jack Reacher is my new hero. You can have The Dark Knight, the kids from Heroes and any other pop culture hero out there (okay, the kids from Heroes are a bit passé, but you get my point). I’ll take Jack Reacher. Oh, and Lee Child. This guy really knows how to create a deeply layered psychological thriller. I was going to take a break from this series after the first two or three books, but now I’m itching to get started on Book 4, Running Blind.
I give this story FOUR STARS.