Monday, April 11, 2011

The Enemy

The Enemy by Lee Child

Jack Reacher. Hero. Loner. Soldier. Soldier’s son.

An elite military cop, he was one of the army’s brightest stars. But in every cop’s life there is a turning point. One case. One messy, tangled case that can shatter a career. Turn a lawman into a renegade. And make him question words like honor, valor, and duty. For Jack Reacher, this is that case.

New Year’s Day, 1990. The Berlin Wall is coming down. The world is changing. And in a North Carolina “hot-sheets” motel, a two-star general is found dead. His briefcase is missing. Nobody knows what was in it. Within minutes Jack Reacher has his orders: Control the situation. But this situation can’t be controlled. Within hours the general’s wife is murdered hundreds of miles away. Then the dominoes really start to fall. Two Special Forces soldiers—the toughest of the tough—are taken down, one at a time. Top military commanders are moved from place to place in a bizarre game of chess. And somewhere inside the vast worldwide fortress that is the U.S. Army, Jack Reacher—an ordinarily untouchable investigator for the 110th Special Unit—is being set up as a fall guy with the worst enemies a man can have.

But Reacher won’t quit. He’s fighting a new kind of war. And he’s taking a young female lieutenant with him on a deadly hunt that leads them from the ragged edges of a rural army post to the winding streets of Paris to a confrontation with an enemy he didn’t know he had. With his French-born mother dying—and divulging to her son one last, stunning secret—Reacher is forced to question everything he once believed…about his family, his career, his loyalties—and himself. Because this soldier’s son is on his way into the darkness, where he finds a tangled drama of desperate desires and violent death—and a conspiracy more chilling, ingenious, and treacherous than anyone could have guessed.

--The Enemy by Lee Child, Copyright ©2004 by Lee Child, published by Delacorte Press

My Review

The Enemy is the 8th book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.

Come back in time to 1990 and learn a bit about Jack Reacher’s past. A few days before New Year’s, he was in Panama, working to help bring down Noriega and watching the Germans tear down the Berlin Wall when he gets orders from his boss, Colonel Leon Garber, transferring him to Fort Bird, North Carolina. He doesn’t know why he, one of the top cops in the Army, was transferred to a quiet post in North Carolina where nothing’s happening. He’s still trying to figure it out when, less than an hour into the New Year, he receives a phone call from the local civilian cops. An officer has died in a seedy, pay-by-the-hour motel, what do you want to do?

At first, Reacher doesn’t want to do anything. The officer obviously paid for the night’s company and had a heart attack in the middle of the action (what a way to go, right?). Let the civilians take care of it—after all, it happened on their turf. Then he finds out the officer is a two-star general just in from West Germany on a layover to Fort Irwin, California. Now he needs to get involved in protecting the general’s and the Army’s reputation.

He recruits Lieutenant Summer, a female officer, to go with him to the general’s wife’s home in Green Valley, Virginia, to let her know of her husband’s death. They arrive at her home…and find her dead. A burglary gone bad from the looks of it. They inform the local cops and return to Fort Bird to resume their cover-up of the circumstances in the general’s death.

It seems like a straight-forward task until Reacher realizes the general’s briefcase is missing. And a two-star would never travel without a briefcase, even if there was nothing in there but yesterday’s newspaper. He also finds it odd that the general would fly into Washington Dulles from Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, drive all the way down to North Carolina to spend the night, then (plan to) drive to Washington National to catch a flight to California and not even stop in to see his wife. It doesn’t compute, unless there was a special reason to spend the night in North Carolina. Reacher wants to know what that reason was, but the general’s travel companions—who themselves stayed in a D.C. hotel—aren’t saying. The missing briefcase and the Fort Irwin meeting agenda are the vital key in this mystery, he’s certain of that. If only he could find them.

Another phone call and another dead body. This time, it’s a soldier and he was killed on base. From the looks of it, it was a hate crime—the dead soldier was gay. A few hours later, Reacher finds out about another dead soldier in Columbia, South Carolina.

In the midst of covering up what needs to be covered up and trying to figure out exactly what went wrong for the general, the local guy and the one in Columbia, Reacher receives a call from his brother, Joe. Their mother, who lives in Paris, has broken her leg. They need to go see her. Reacher leaves a message with Garber’s office, meets his brother at Dulles and flies to Paris.

Reunited with their mother, they find out she has more than just a broken leg. She has cancer, and it’s too late to do anything about it. She has one request, and that is to spend the day with her sons. They oblige, of course, talking about old times and sharing adventures. The next day, they return to the US…where Reacher is promptly arrested. Seems he’s gone AWOL. How can I be AWOL, he asks. I called Garber’s office. Yes, but Garber’s been posted to Korea and Reacher’s new boss, Colonel Willard, did not give him permission to leave his post.

Details, details.

Reacher doesn’t like Willard from the start and sets about letting him know it. Willard wants him to back off the local guy’s death, officially classifying it as a training accident, the general simply died of a heart attack and he has no jurisdiction over the body in Columbia, but Reacher, being Reacher smells a connection between the deaths. With Lieutenant Summer’s help, he goes about disobeying orders and doing what he does best, putting everything on the line to get to the heart of the matter, even if it means he may wind up at Fort Leavenworth.

I give this story FIVE STARS.

Honestly, I wanted to turn the dial up to eleven. This is, so far, my absolute favorite book of the series.

I’m an Army brat, so I don’t know if I’d feel the same about Reacher if he had been in the Navy, Air Force (sorry, Mike!) or the Marines. But he was Army, so I have to love the guy. And while I may not know as much about Army life as a soldier would, the things I do know (and the things I don’t even realize I know) Child got absolutely spot-on right. His depth of knowledge and the accuracy of his research into the minutiae of the Army left me stunned. I am simply in awe of Lee Child and the writer in me wishes I could study at his feet.

Okay, that’s enough hero worship.

Now, I’ve already read the next book in the series, One Shot (here’s the review I wrote last year) and it wasn’t so long ago that I’ve forgotten what the story was about, so my question is, do I listen to the audio version next or skip it and go on to The Hard Way?

…pfft, as if there was any question I wouldn’t re-read one of his books!

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