Thursday, March 17, 2011

Without Fail

Without Fail by Lee Child

Only Jack Reacher stands between Vice President-elect Brook Armstrong and his would-be assassins. But that's enough, because taking out bad guys is what highly skilled ex-military policeman Reacher does best. Recruited by M.E. Froelich, new head of the Secret Service VP detail and former lover of Jack's late brother Joe, Reacher enlists the aid of former U.S. Army master sergeant Frances Neagley, who's as pretty as she is potentially deadly. But it is Reacher alone who finds significance in the hyphen in a death threat and checks out the odd oil on a fingerprint as he puts together the pieces and zeroes in on the killers who are after Armstrong.

From Library Journal, Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Copied from

--Without Fail by Lee Child, Copyright ©2002 by Lee Child, published by Jove Books

My Review

Without Fail is the 6th book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.

It’s November and Jack Reacher has arrived in Atlantic City. He wonders to himself, “What on earth possessed me to leave warm, sunny Southern California for cold, wintry Atlantic City?” He won’t be there long, though, because a lady has a job offer for him. “Would you be willing to try and assassinate the Vice President-elect?”

Reacher’s had a number of unusual jobs since leaving the military, but this one has to take the cake. The offeror is M.E. Froelich, a Secret Service agent and the woman in charge of the team responsible for protecting Brook Armstrong, the current Vice President-elect. She doesn’t tell him, but he quickly surmises that there’s been a threat against Armstrong and she wants him to test her security team. She chose him because he came with a good recommendation. Who recommended me? he asks. Your brother Joe. Seems Froelich was a former co-worker of Joe’s, and a former lover. Reacher says he’ll do it and that he’ll be in touch in ten days.

Five days later, he and Froelich meet again, where Reacher and his partner for this assignment, former Army Sergeant Frances Neagley, tell her they had Armstrong in their kill-sight three definite times and one maybe. She finally breaks down and tells him what’s going on. Armstrong has received several threats against his life. They were credible enough that Froelich wanted to test her security team. Thanks to them, they failed. Will Reacher and Neagley please help her find out who’s behind the threats?

They agree and begin to investigate. Their search quickly focuses in on the office cleaning crew since they had to be the ones to plant one of the threats in Froelich’s boss’s office. But they aren’t talking.

While Reacher and Neagley work on the mystery, Froelich must continue to protect Armstrong as he goes about his pre-inauguration duties. One of those duties, unfortunately, turns deadly. Now Reacher’s mission is personal, and when that happens, there can be only one outcome.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I am listening to every single Lee Child book written (in order, of course). I became intrigued by this mysterious drifter named Jack Reacher and his creator, Lee Child, a little more than a year ago but it wasn’t until I got a free e-book copy of One Shot that I finally read one of the stories. To say I fell in love with Jack Reacher at that point is a bit of an exaggeration, but not too far from the truth. I went about collecting all of the stories in the series in audio and decided to start listening to them this year. I usually listen while I’m working out and find it’s a great way to focus on something other than the agony the evil elliptical and the suicide stair machine cause—seriously, my trainer told me today he wants me to “walk up the stairs at a comfortable pace” for ten-plus minutes. And I’m paying him for the pleasure of this torture?

But I digress.

IMHO, Jack Reacher is one of the greatest heroes ever created and if I wasn’t before, I am now in love with this man. Lee Child is now firmly in the Number 2 spot of my favorite Mystery/Thriller writer’s list. But the more I read (listen), the more he’s gaining on the Number 1 spot.

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